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US suspends operations at Belarus embassy, OKs exits from Moscow

The US Embassy in Moscow.

Mikhail Metzel | TASS | Getty Images

The State Department on Monday announced the suspended operations at its embassy in Minsk, the capital city of Belarus, and greenlit the voluntary departure of non-emergency members and their families from the US embassy in Moscow.

“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The Biden administration’s actions mark the latest erosion of diplomatic ties with the Kremlin, which has been condemned by much of the international community and hit with crippling sanctions over its military aggression in Ukraine. The Alexander Lukashenko regime in Belarus, which borders Ukraine and is closely allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin, has also been sanctioned, most recently by the European Union.

Earlier Monday morning, talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations began at the Ukraine-Belarus border. The two countries agreed to meet with no preconditions, according to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

Blinken’s statement said the US had “authorized the voluntary departure (‘authorized departure’) of non-emergency employees and family members” from the embassy in Moscow.

“The Department of State continuously adjusts its posture at embassies and consulates throughout the world in line with its mission, the local security environment, and the health situation,” Blinken said.

“We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of US citizens, and that includes our US government personnel and their dependents serving around the world,” he said.

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