The U.S. government has strongly advised its citizens currently in Belarus to leave the nation at once and has cautioned against any travel to the country, according to a recent statement.
This heightened travel advisory follows increased security measures by neighboring nations such as Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland. These actions were triggered by concerns regarding the Russian Wagner mercenary group’s presence in Belarus.
The U.S. State Department has implored Americans in Belarus to exit promptly and labeled the nation with a Level 4 security risk, which is the most severe warning.
Belarus’s leader for many years, Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as the last dictator in Europe, has played a significant role in supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military actions in Ukraine. Furthermore, he faces numerous U.S. sanctions due to violations of human rights and political suppression, especially against those who contested his 2020 election win.
The U.S. diplomatic presence in Belarus is minimal, mainly providing urgent services for U.S. nationals.
NATO countries bordering Belarus have expressed apprehension about Lukashenko’s decision to host the Wagner group, following an agreement with Putin that terminated the group’s brief resistance against the Russian government.
The State Department’s advisory explicitly states: “Refrain from traveling to Belarus because of the Belarusian government’s support for Russia’s uninvited aggression in Ukraine, the assembly of Russian military units in Belarus, unpredictable application of local regulations, potential civil disturbances, risk of arrest, and the U.S. Embassy’s limited capacity to aid Americans in Belarus.”
In recent developments, Lithuania sealed two of its six entry points with Belarus. The U.S. advises Americans to use the still-accessible border points. Simultaneously, warnings have been issued about possible additional border shutdowns by Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Currently, Poland maintains one active border point with Belarus, and Latvia has two. Both nations have fortified their borders with Belarus with additional military personnel. Additionally, accusations have been made against Lukashenko for exploiting migrants from Middle Eastern nations, bringing them to Belarus, and then pushing them over the borders.