Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing regarding the incident with Ryanair flight FR4978


Before speaking on the subject matter of this discussion, let me express our surprise and extreme disappointment at your decision to allow a number of EU states to participate in this meeting, who have no relation to its agenda item. By acting in such a manner, you not only set a negative example and demonstrate a lack of integrity, but also play in the hand of Western states who are going to hold an anti-Belarusian (and also anti-Russian for that matter) show in the Security Council today, which clearly follows from their remarks.


We can explain your clear neglect of the Council’s rules of procedure and your duties by your inexperience and the overall strain from your concluding Presidency, the rest of which has been rather successful.


We have taken note of the briefing by President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano regarding the incident with the landing of Ryanair flight FR4978 in the Minsk airport on 23 May 2021.  

The vision of this event and its allegedly objective investigation by the ICAO team that we are presented with is rather far from reality.  We have reasons to believe that the so-called “fact-finding process” was nothing more than settling the scores with the unwanted states that the West frequently resorts to. Let me elaborate.

To start with the report by the ICAO Fact-Finding Investigation Team (FFIT) that underpinned the recent UNGA resolution condemning Belarus. There are lots of questions to this document that some states prefer to keep silent about. Let’s turn to the facts.

On 31 January, the ICAO Council hosted a discussion of what they said was the final report regarding the Ryanair FR4978 incident. At that point, the FFIT concluded that Belarusian MIG-29 had not intercepted or escorted the Ryanair flight and that the decision to land in Minsk had been made solely by the crew of the aircraft. Alleged “guilt” of the Belarusian side was not established.  

Could such conclusions satisfy Western states? Apparently not. They needed the report to be political so that they used it to justify their illegitimate restrictive measures against the Belarusian air industry. They took advantage of their majority in the ICAO Council and forced the FFIT to continue the investigation. So the FFIT final report turned out not final at all.  

Upon considering the “updated” report, the ICAO Council made a completely different decision. It condemned the acts of the Belarusian government and argued that its officials allegedly had to do with providing flight FR4978 with false information about a threat of explosion. So basically the ICAO repeated the allegations that Western countries had made in May 2021.  

Colleagues, this situation starts to resemble the case with the OPCW investigating the incident in Douma on 7 April 2018. I remind that Western sponsors were not satisfied with OPCW’s initial report that confirmed that there had been no proofs of chemical weapons usage, and so the already finalized report was further doctored and cut to meet the pre-cooked conclusions about Syria’s involvement in this provocation that had been staged by the notorious “White Helmets”. As for the firm facts, which confirm that a manipulation had taken place, Western states and Director-General of the OPCW, Mr.F.Arias,  do their best overlook them, which dramatically undermines trust in the OPCW Technical Secretariat and the organization at large.

By the same token, the updated ICAO report on the landing of the Ryanair flight, which is totally at odds with the initial report, carries little credibility in terms of its objectiveness. Suffice it to mention, that the updated report cites as one of its sources an anonymous individual –allegedly an air traffic controller from outside Belarus, uses unverified audio recordings while ignoring the data shared by the Belarusian authorities.

Many seem to forget that the FFIT did not have a task to find ways to accuse Belarus. It should have established the facts and identify any gaps with a view to maintaining safety and security of flights. I will give you this one example. It follows from the report that some European states were only able to read the communications about a threat of an explosion onboard the aircraft the next day after those messages had been sent. Is it the proper level of flight security? Is it acceptable for the European air passengers?  But instead of elaborating measures to improve this blatant situation, Western states keep blaming the Belarusian side.

We believe what’s important is that Belarus itself adopted a transparent stance in the investigation, without pursuing any double agenda. Belarusian aviation authorities interacted closely with the ICAO and provided all the materials requested. But frankly, they did not have to do it, because this responsible approach did not fit into the Western plans. The West did not wait for the results of the international investigation. Before those were formulated, they adopted a decision to suspend flights through the Belarusian air space, banned EU-bound flights of Belarusian air companies, imposed illegitimate restrictions on Minsk. To their mind, IAO only had one task – confirm the conclusions and claims of the European capitals, which the ICAO did on second try, having forsaken its reputation.

Now the objectiveness of ICAO raises our profound doubts, because no objective and transparent investigation into the incident with the Ryanair flight has taken place. Let’s recall similar incidents and think what the reaction of the international community would have been to an investigation, had this been the case of say, forced landing of the aircraft of the President of Bolivia in Vienna in 2013, or the landing of a Belavia flight in Kiev in 2016, or the emergency landing of the Ryanair Dublin-Krakow flight in Berlin in May 2021 upon receiving information about an explosive device onboard.


This biased report that had been rewritten to meet the pre-cooked accusations was endorsed by a resolution at the 41st session of the ICAO Assembly. It qualifies legitimate acts of the Belarusian government as a blatant violation of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. This decision is not only unfounded, but also overtly politicized. We regret that contrary to ICAO’s longstanding reputation as a technical body, its Assembly was used as a platform to promote political interests of certain states.

The recent developments in ICAO have demonstrated that the organization is rapidly losing its ability to deliver on its mandated issues in an impartial and professional way, namely – to contribute to a safe and progressive development of international civil aviation. We see more and more situations when the ICAO acts in the interests of a small group of states.

As we see, this sort of inability to properly respond to the problems of civil aviation, leads to a situation when these topics are taken to a non-specialized platform – the Security Council of the United Nations. Instead of addressing relevant issues of maintaining the international peace and security, the Security Council again has to spend its time on the intrigues of our former Western partners against the unwanted states, though this spiel has no relation to the UNSC mandate. Judging by the number of European states who have inscribed on the list of speakers, this plotting is of more concern to them than the real problems in front of UN member states. How else can we explain the fact that we are having five extra participants from the European Union at this meeting versus none at the debate on the Middle Eastern settlement on 28 October?


We are convinced that the international civil aviation and ICAO must not become tools for exerting political pressure. It will be regrettable if the ICAO follows in the footsteps of the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW, which is being dramatically politicized, and therefore losing its independence. Should this happen, it will inflict irreparable damage on the international cooperation in the area of civil aviation.

Thank you.