Joint Statement on the Forced Diversion of Ryanair Flight FR4978 to Minsk

United States Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
May 26, 2021

Joint Statement on the Forced Diversion of Ryanair Flight FR4978 to Minsk

We, the current European Union members of the Security Council, Estonia, France and Ireland, and the previous EU Council Members, Belgium and Germany, joined today by the Security Council members, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, strongly condemn the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, Belarus, on 23 May 2021, endangering aviation safety, and the detention by Belarusian authorities of journalist Raman Pratasevich and Sofia Sapega.

The airplane, owned by a European Union company, carrying more than 100 passengers from one EU Member State’s capital to another, was forced to land based on false grounds by a Belarusian military aircraft. These acts are a blatant attack on international civilian aviation safety and on European security and show flagrant disregard for international law.

We call on the International Civil Aviation Organization to urgently investigate this unprecedented and unacceptable incident and for full accountability for those responsible. We demand the immediate release of Mr. Pratasevich, an independent journalist from Belarus, and Ms. Sapega, who were detained by the Belarusian authorities and prevented them from boarding the plane at the Minsk airport to its original destination.

On 24 May, the European Council decided on a set of measures in response to the incident, including to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and to prevent access to EU airports of flights operated by such airlines, as well as further restrictive measures against Belarus. The UK has taken similar measures. We will enhance our efforts, including through the coordination of our sanctions policies, to ensure that the Belarusian authorities bear responsibility for their actions.

We fully condemn this as yet another blatant attempt by the Belarusian authorities to silence all opposition voices. We continue to stand firmly with the people of Belarus in their quest for a democratic future and for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We stand united against the growing practice of authoritarian leaders reaching across their borders to target dissidents, journalists, and opposition leaders. This behavior threatens the rules-based international order and undermines our collective peace and security.