‘Hybrid attack, not migration crisis’: Biden, von der Leyen discuss sanctions against airlines carrying migrants to Minsk

On November 10, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and US President Joe Biden had a meeting in the White House; the top EU official called it ‘very productive’ on Twitter.

Ursula von der Leyan and Joe Biden during meeting in White House. Washintgton, 10 November 2021. Photo: Ursula von der Leyen / Twitter

They touched upon a series of issues, including the current situation at the border with Belarus; von der Leyen described it as ‘a hybrid attack, not a migration crisis’ and said that the US leader shared the view.

“We absolutely share the assessment that this is a hybrid attack of an authoritarian regime to try to destabilise its democratic neighbours and this will not suceed. We will protect our democracies,” she told journalists on the back of the meeting.

We explain why migrants go to Germany through Belarus and what authorities say

According to the politician, the sides agreed to coordinate their outreach to the countries of origin so that they could prevent their citizens from falling into the trap of the Lukashenka regime; they are also set to look into the possibility of sanctioning those airlines who facilitate human trafficking to Minsk.

“We know the patterns. We are used to that, by seeing how there was the attempt to influence our democratic elections. We see the cyberattacks. We see the misinformation. Now, we have this hybrid attack by instrumentalising migrants at the EU-Belarus border. And we have to protect our democracies from this kind of cynical geopolitical power play. This is what I discussed with President Biden at the White House meeting,” her statement reads.

It is important that the United Nations agencies have access in Belarus to the migrants in that very difficult situation, Ursula von der Leyen noted.

“We will widen our sanctions against Belarus very rapidly at the beginning of next week. As far as I am informed the United States prepared sanctions that will be in effect at the beginning of December; the European sanctions will not only be against personalities but also against entities. It is important that Lukashenka regime understands that their behaviour comes with a price,” she added.

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