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US Urges Immediate Departure for Americans in Belarus Amid Escalating Tensions

US Urges Immediate Departure for Americans in Belarus Amid Escalating Tensions

JP Alegre

Wednesday, August 23 2023, 03:47:00:PM

In light of escalating tensions stemming from the conflict in Ukraine, the United States is strongly advising its citizens currently in Belarus to depart the country "immediately." 

The US Embassy in Minsk issued an advisory on Monday, citing the risks caused by the war in Ukraine, including the buildup of Russian forces in Belarus. The embassy's advisory warned of heightened risks faced by Americans in Belarus due to factors such as arbitrary enforcement of local laws, potential detentions, and civil unrest. 

The recent closure of two border crossings by Lithuania has added urgency to the situation, potentially limiting exit routes for those in Belarus. Reports suggest that other European Union members like Poland and Latvia are also considering closing additional border crossings.

The embassy strongly recommended that U.S. citizens still present in Belarus explore immediate departure options. These include making use of the remaining border crossings with Lithuania and Latvia, or utilizing available flight routes. 

However, there are currently no direct or connecting flights from Minsk to the US. Flights to other destinations, such as London, have seen exorbitant prices due to the limited options and complex layovers.

While some flights routed through Moscow may seem viable, the US government has cautioned against travel to or through Russia due to the risk of arbitrary arrests. Similar advisories are in place for travel to or through Ukraine, which already faces significant transportation limitations.

For those who choose to disregard the advisory and still plan to travel to Belarus, the embassy stressed the importance of having a well-thought-out contingency plan in place and “not rely on U.S. government assistance,” citing the embassy’s “limited ability to assist” Americans living in or traveling to Belarus.

Minsk has been one of Moscow’s closest allies since in its invasion of Ukraine. The presence of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus and the influx of fighters from the Russia-affiliated Wagner Group have further escalated tensions. 

Geographically positioned between NATO members and the Russia-Ukraine border, Belarus has become a potential staging ground for regional conflicts, prompting anxieties about the Suwalki Gap — a strategic corridor between Poland and Lithuania to Russia's Kaliningrad.

Information for this story was found via the US Embassy in Minsk, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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