The US State Department has issued a series of advisories urging American citizens within the borders of Belarus to depart immediately. This comes as neighboring countries, including Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, bolster their security and military presence along the Belarusian border.
The Biden administration's statement on Monday underscores the gravity of the situation, urging all U.S. citizens in Belarus to prioritize their safety by leaving the nation promptly and refraining from any travel there for any reason. The State Department's warning highlights several reasons for avoiding Belarus, including its overt support for Russia's actions in Ukraine, the potential for civil unrest, the alleged arbitrary enforcement of local laws, and the substantial risk of detention.
Amid these developments, Lithuania has taken decisive measures by closing down two out of its six border crossings with Belarus, while Poland and Latvia have also limited open border crossings. The suspicion that Belarus may be involved in facilitating migrant movements towards European Union (EU) border checkpoints has exacerbated tensions between Belarus and its neighboring states.
The United States advisory extends beyond Belarus's borders, with American citizens prohibited from entering Poland overland from Belarus. Additionally, the U.S. strongly advises against travel to Russia or Ukraine. The heightened tensions have prompted the U.S. to maintain a reduced embassy presence in Minsk, with the embassy focused on providing assistance to Americans during emergencies.
Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, has recently declared his country's readiness to employ nuclear weapons in response to aggression from neighboring states. Lukashenko's statement particularly underscores the potential for an "unacceptable strike" against countries like Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Russia has stationed tactical nuclear weapons at Belarusian bases since last spring.