State Department urges US citizens to leave Belarus amid Russian military buildup along border

A Russian fighter prepares to take off from an airfield in Russia and fly to Belarus to attend a joint military drills.
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

The State Department on Monday warned Americans against traveling to Belarus due to the ongoing buildup of Russian military along the Eastern European country’s border with Ukraine as U.S. officials continue to warn that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could occur as soon as this week.

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

“Potential harassment targeted specifically at foreigners is also possible. Given the heightened volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling to Belarus,” the department added.

The advisory warned that the U.S. government may be limited in its ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Belarus due to already being “severely limited due to Belarusian government limitations on U.S. Embassy staffing.”

The advisory comes on the same day that the U.S. announced it was closing its embassy in Kyiv and moving operations more than 300 miles to the west to the city of Lviv.

“We are in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“These prudent precautions in no way undermine our support for or our commitment to Ukraine. Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” he added.

The State Department also reissued a travel advisory for Moldova, which borders Ukraine to the west.

“Do not travel to Moldova due to COVID-19, the unusual and concerning Russian military activity around Ukraine, and the unresolved conflict between the breakaway region of Transnistria and the central government; U.S. citizens in Transnistria should depart immediately via commercial and private means,” the department said.

Tags Antony Blinken Belarus Moldova Russo-Ukrainian War Ukraine
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