(DCWatchdog.com) – HAPPENING NOW: The Biden administration just released a statement on Monday advising U.S. citizens in Belarus to leave the country without delay and discouraging travel to the region.
This new travel advisory was prompted by neighboring countries Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland enhancing their border defenses, citing worries about the Russian Wagner mercenary forces present in Belarus.
The State Department has classified Belarus as a Level 4 risk, the most severe security warning. They have strongly recommended Americans in Belarus leave as soon as possible.
Europe’s last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, has assisted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s campaign in Ukraine. Lukashenko has also faced several U.S. sanctions due to allegations of human rights violations and political oppression against those in Belarus who contested his 2020 election win.
The U.S. diplomatic presence in Belarus is limited and is primarily responsible for critical American Citizen Services.
Following an agreement with Putin that halted the mercenary group’s brief revolt against the Kremlin, Lukashenko’s decision to host the Wagner forces has caused unease among NATO nations bordering Belarus.
The State Department’s warning detailed, “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.”
In recent events, Lithuania has sealed off two of its six border entry points with Belarus. The State Department has advised Americans to use the remaining operational border checkpoints. They highlighted statements from the Polish, Lithuanian, and Latvian governments, which suggest more border closures with Belarus might be forthcoming.
Currently, Poland maintains one border passage with Belarus, and Latvia has kept two active.
Poland and Latvia have augmented their military presence at their respective borders with Belarus. They have leveled accusations at Lukashenko, claiming he is exploiting migrants from the Middle East by transporting them to Belarus and then directing them across the border.