Belarus: US State Department orders families of government officials to leave Minsk

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The developments come as US officials warn that Russia could stage a major invasion of Ukraine, including from neighboring Belarus. At a meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the US had seen evidence that Moscow intended to massing more than 30,000 troops on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border by early February and that 5,000 troops were already there.

In an updated travel advisory issued Monday, the State Department said that “due to an increase in unusual and concerning Russian military activity near the border with Ukraine, U.S. citizens located or planning to traveling to Belarus should be aware that the situation is unpredictable and there is heightened tension in the region.”

“Given the heightened volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly discouraged from traveling to Belarus,” the notice states, adding that “the U.S. government’s ability to provide routine or emergency services to citizens Americans in Belarus is already severely restricted due to the Belarusian government’s limitations of US embassy staff.”

Last week, in a decision criticized by the Ukrainian government, the State Department authorized the departure of US government employees from the US Embassy in Kyiv and ordered the departure of their family members “in because of the continuing threat of Russian military action”.

The United States has a limited diplomatic presence in Belarus due to restrictions imposed by the government of strongman Alexander Lukashenko. Last August, the Belarusian government asked the United States Embassy in Minsk to reduce the number of employees to five, and in October it forced the embassy to close its public diplomacy and foreign affairs offices. Agency for International Development and to lay off more than 20 Belarusian employees starting in November. 20. US Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher was forced to serve in neighboring Lithuania.

On Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States had “made it very clear, including directly to Belarusian authorities, that if it allowed the use of its territory for an attack against Ukraine, they would face a swift and decisive response from the United States.” and our allies and partners.”

“We talked about the unprecedented nature of the sanctions and other economic measures that would befall the Russian Federation in the event of an invasion. If Belarus – which should be a sovereign and independent country – if this country supported such invasion, our response would also be swift and decisive,” he said during a State Department briefing.

During Monday’s UN Security Council meeting on Russia’s escalation towards Ukraine, Belarus’ UN ambassador said his country was in favor of dialogue, but reiterated that it would act for the defense of its ally Russia if attacked. He also said that Russia and Belarus would organize joint military activities, which he said “are always purely defensive in nature and pose no threat to either our European partners or our neighboring countries.”


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