The U.S. Department of State Monday announced it has suspended operations at the U.S. embassy in Minsk, Belarus, and authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency employees and family members at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia’s capital, Moscow.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department took the steps due to security and safety issues stemming from “the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine.”
He said the department continually adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world based on the local security environment, and the health situation.
Blinken said, “We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world.”
Separately, the United States updated its travel advisories for Belarus and Russia to Level 4-“Do Not Travel” status, citing Russia’s military attack on Ukraine. Russia has held troop drills in Belarus, using it as a staging ground to target Ukraine from the north.
Earlier in February, the U.S. embassy in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, relocated operations to the western city of Lyiv amid the Russia-Ukraine tensions.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. Jamie Dettmer also contributed to this report.