The Lawfare Podcast: A State-Sponsored Skyjacking

Jen Patja, Benjamin Wittes, Alexander Vindman, Alina Polyakova, Scott R. Anderson
Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

Over the weekend, an airplane from an Irish airline flying from Athens to Vilnius, Lithuania, was forced down in Belarus so that Belarusian authorities could arrest a dissident. The pretext for the grounding of the plane was a bomb threat from, of all things, Hamas. The incident has produced a major international standoff between the European Union and Belarus, with Russia lurking in the background.

What does it all mean? Can this be defended as a matter of international law? Was this simply a hijacking by the Belarusian government, or was Vladimir Putin really behind it? And what can the United States and the European Union do about it all? To discuss these questions, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Alexander Vindman, the Pritzker Military Fellow at Lawfare; Alina Polyakova of the Center for European Policy Analysis; and Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson.

Jen Patja is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman (Retired), a Pritzker Military Fellow at Lawfare, was most recently the director for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Russia on the White House’s National Security Council. Prior to retiring from the U.S. Army, he served as a Foreign Area Officer with assignments in Moscow, Russia and for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a Political-Military Affairs Officer. While on the Joint Staff, he co-authored the National Military Strategy Russia Annex and was the principal author for the Global Campaign for Russia. He is currently a doctoral student at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Visiting Fellow at Perry World House.
Alina Polyakova is the David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Foreign Policy program's Center on the United States and Europe and adjunct professor of European studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Scott R. Anderson is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a Senior Fellow in the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School. He previously served as an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State and as the legal advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

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