The US government has issued a stern warning to its citizens in Belarus, urging them to leave the country “immediately” due to the escalating security situation. The US Embassy in Minsk said in a statement on Monday that Americans should avoid traveling to Belarus because of its “continued facilitation of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the buildup of Russian military forces in Belarus, the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, the potential of civil unrest, the risk of detention, and the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Belarus”.
The statement also noted that some border crossings with neighboring countries Lithuania, Latvia and Poland have been closed or restricted, and that further closures are possible. The US advised its citizens to use the remaining open border crossings to exit Belarus as soon as possible. The US also reminded its citizens of the Level 4 Travel Advisory for Belarus, which means “do not travel”
The US warning comes amid heightened tensions in the region, as Belarus hosts thousands of Russian troops and mercenaries who are supporting Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has faced widespread protests and international sanctions over his disputed re-election last year. Lukashenko has cracked down on dissent and media freedom, and has been accused of using migrants as a weapon against neighboring countries.
The US has condemned Lukashenko’s actions and called for a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine. The US has also imposed sanctions on Belarusian officials and entities for human rights violations and electoral fraud. The US has expressed solidarity with the Belarusian people and their democratic aspirations.