May 24, 2021 - World

Biden: U.S. will coordinate with the EU on Belarus response

Joe Biden

Raman Pratasevich. Photo: Erin Scott/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said in a statement Monday his administration is developing "appropriate options" in coordination with the EU to hold Belarus accountable following the country's diversion of a flight to arrest an opposition leader.

Driving the news: Earlier Monday, the European Council called for an independent investigation into the episode, the submission of sanctions proposals and advised EU-based carriers to avoid and airspace.

The big picture: A Ryanair flight en route from Greece to Lithuania was forced by Belarusian air control to land in Belarus' capital Minsk Sunday, under the pretext of "a potential security risk on board."

  • Belarusian authorities then detained Raman Pratasevich, a journalist and activist who was critical in organizing mass anti-government protests in Belarus last year, and his partner Sofia Sapega.
  • Belarus' actions have been described a "hijacking" by some European leaders, who have vowed the country will face consequences.

What they're saying: "I welcome the news that the European Union has called for targeted economic sanctions and other measures, and have asked my team to develop appropriate options to hold accountable those responsible, in close coordination with the European Union, other allies and partners, and international organizations," Biden said.

  • Biden called Pratasevich's detainment by the Belarusian authorities is a "direct affront to international norms."
  • "The United States joins countries around the world in calling for his release, as well as for the release of the hundreds of political prisoners who are being unjustly detained by the Lukashenka regime," he said.
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