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The probably terrified passengers of Ryanair Flight FR4978 from Athens to Vilnius, Latvia, were surely grateful that they were not shot down by the Belarusian MiG-29 sent to intercept them and force the plane to make an unplanned stop in Minsk.

After all, the region has a proven history of shooting down civilian airliners, starting with a Finnish-operated Junkers 52 transport aircraft shot down in 1940 by Soviet bombers while en route from Talinn, Estonia, to Helsinki, and ending most recently with the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, a Boeing 777 with 298 people on board, by a missile allegedly fired by Ukrainian separatists near Donetsk, Ukraine, in July 2014...

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