Biden orders an option to hold Belarus accountable to bypass journalists and planes

President Joe Biden ordered his administration on Monday to develop an option to punish the Belarusian influential government that bypassed Ryanair’s flight to detain activist journalists.

“Welcome the news that the European Union is calling for targeted economic sanctions and other measures, to work closely with the European Union, other allies and partners and international organizations to hold the responsible person accountable. We asked the team to develop the appropriate options for the EU, “Biden said in a statement.

Ryanair said a Belarusian flight controller had told the crew that there was a bomb threat to the plane as it was passing through Belarus’ airspace on Sunday and ordered it to land. The Belarusian MiG-29 fighter was scrambled by Lukashenko, who has ruled the country with iron fists for more than a quarter of a century, to escort the plane in a brave military show of force.

Belarusian authorities subsequently arrested a 26-year-old activist, journalist, and prominent Lukashenko critic. Platasevic and his Russian girlfriend were taken off the plane shortly after it landed, and authorities have not revealed where they were detained. Ryanair FR4978, which began in Athens, Greece, was finally allowed to continue to Vilnius, Lithuania.

Biden condemned the move and joined an international call calling for investigation and the release of Platasevic.

“It is international that Belarus forcibly bypasses Ryanair’s commercial flights that travel between the two member states of the European Union, and then dismisses and arrests Belarusian journalist Raman Platasevic, who travels abroad. It is directly threatening the norms, “said the president.

“The United States has denounced both the diversion of the plane and the subsequent dismissal and arrest of Mr. Platasevic in the strongest possible terms. It’s a shameful attack on both objections and press freedom. “

The European Union agreed on Monday to impose sanctions on Belarus, including banning the use of block airspace and airports in 27 countries, in anger at the forced detour of jet airliners to arrest opposition journalists. ..

“We do not tolerate trying to play Russian roulette in the lives of innocent civilians,” said Charles Michel, chair of the Council of the European Union.

According to a phone call released by the White House, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan “strongly condemned” Platasevic’s detention on Monday during a call with Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Chikanoskaya. The statement concludes with a warning that the United States will work with its allies to hold Belarus accountable.

“Mr. Sullivan cited the US demand for the immediate release of Mr. Platasevic and all Belarusian political prisoners, and the need for a free and fair election under the supervision of the OSCE to resolve the current crisis.” Said. “Finally, Mr. Sullivan revealed that the United States will work with the EU and other allies and partners to hold the Lukaschenka administration accountable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Posted on