US Citizens Again Urged To Leave Belarus As Lithuania Closes Border Crossings
It is not the first time the US State Department has urged Americans in Belarus to exit the country, but certainly the alarm is growing louder as neighboring countries move to seal more borders with the sanctioned country which has aided Putin’s special military operation in Ukraine.
A Monday statement by the Biden administration has told all US citizens still in Belarus to leave immediately, further warning against travel there for any reason.
The neighboring states of Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia have increased security and military deployments to the Belarusian border, particularly on concerns of Russian Wagner fighters having a major presence there.
“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 State Department wrote in the fresh warning.
Days ago Lithuania closed two of its six border crossings, while Poland only has one border crossing with Belarus open, and Latvia has two – and these governments have said more closures could come in the near future.
Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Belarus had limited participation in by allowing Russian forces staging ground, neighboring countries had accused strongman Alexander Lukashenko of ‘weaponizing migrants’ by literally flying Middle Easterners in while pushing them through EU border checkpoints.
“U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter Poland overland from Belarus. Do not travel to Russia or to Ukraine,” the US statement said further. The US maintains a scaled down embassy presence in Minsk and is set up to assist with emergencies.
In an interview days ago with state outlet BelTA, Lukashenko said his country stands ready to use nuclear weapons “if aggression is launched against us.”
He said, “If aggression against our country is launched from the side of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, we will immediately respond with everything we have… And the strike will be unacceptable.”
“NATO stands behind Poland, Lithuania, Latvia. We certainly understand that the forces are incomparable,” he explained. “But we will deliver an unacceptable strike against them and they will receive unacceptable harm, damage. It is what our security concept is based on.” Since last spring, Russia has based tactical nukes at Belarusian bases.
Tue, 08/22/2023 – 02:45