US Embassy in Belarus Advises Americans to Leave Russian-Allied Country Immediately

US Embassy in Belarus Advises Americans to Leave Russian-Allied Country Immediately
Polish soldiers unload materials to construct a barbed wire fence on the border with Belarus in Zubrzyca Wielka near Bialystok, eastern Poland, on Aug. 26, 2021. (Jaap Arriens/AFP via Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan

The U.S. Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, has issued a new advisory for U.S. citizens in the country to get out as soon as possible as neighboring NATO-allied nations have begun cutting off contact with the Russian-allied eastern European state.

In a Monday alert, the embassy warned that Lithuania, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), recently sealed off two of its border crossing points with Belarus. The embassy said four remaining Lithuanian-Belarusian border crossings remained open but that conditions could change. The U.S. embassy further warned that fellow NATO allies like Poland and Latvia might also shut off border access with Belarus, leaving U.S. citizens with few options to leave the country.

“U.S. citizens in Belarus should depart immediately,” a warning message from the U.S. Embassy in Minsk reads. “Consider departing via the remaining border crossings with Lithuania and Latvia, or by plane. U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter Poland overland from Belarus. Do not travel to Russia or to Ukraine.”

The risk of Americans becoming stuck in Belarus is particularly high, given that the country borders Ukraine to the north and has supported Russian forces in invading that country.

“Do not travel to Belarus due to Belarusian authorities’ 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 U.S. Embassy wrote in a travel advisory.

Americans who choose to travel to Belarus or remain in the country despite the embassy’s warnings have been advised to keep their passports and other travel documents with them at all times and have a contingency plan that does not rely on U.S. government assistance. They have also been advised to avoid known high-risk areas and to monitor local and international news for major updates.

NTD News reached out to the Belarusian Embassy in Washington D.C. about the latest U.S. travel warning. The Belarusian Embassy did not respond by press time. The U.S. State Department also did not immediately respond to an NTD News request for comment.

Tensions Mount Between NATO and the Russian Ally

The U.S. Embassy in Minsk has been warning Americans to avoid Belarus since early 2022, noting the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The recent closings at Belarusian border crossings prompted Monday’s latest warning message from the embassy.

Belarus has found itself at odds with its NATO neighbors since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. While Belarus has been supportive of the Russian side in the conflict, NATO has channeled billions of dollars in weapons to the Ukrainian side.

The tensions between Belarus and its NATO neighbors have taken on a new dimension in recent weeks.

Last month, Poland deployed troops to its border with Belarus, citing the presence of Russian Wagner mercenary forces in the country. The Wagner forces relocated to Belarus after a short-lived mutiny with Russia. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko appeared to smooth over the strained relations between the Wagner forces and the Moscow government by agreeing to take in the mercenary army. Since then, Wagner forces have reportedly begun training Belarusian troops at a location near the Polish border, raising alarm bells in Warsaw.
We assume the Wagners aren’t going to Belarus to recuperate but to carry out a mission,” Stanislaw Zaryn, Poland’s deputy minister coordinator of special services, said in early July. “This mission could be aimed at Poland but also against Lithuania or Ukraine.”
Poland deployed even more troops to its border with Belarus this month after Belarusian military helicopters allegedly violated Polish airspace, a claim the Lukashenko government has denied.
Latvia has also bolstered its troop presence along its border with Belarus, citing an alleged increase in the number of illegal immigrants entering the country from Belarus.

The diplomatic strain between NATO-allied nations and Belarus comes amid concerns that the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and extensive NATO support for the Ukrainian side could feed into a broader conflict between NATO and Russia and its allies.

From NTD