US orders diplomatic staff family members to leave Belarus

Washington DC, Feb 1 (EFE).- The United States has ordered the family members of its staff at the Belarusian embassy to leave the country after increasing Russian military activities near the border with Ukraine.

The Department of State on Monday advised its citizens not to travel to Belarus, one of the Russian allies in the region.

“Due to an increase in unusual and concerning Russian military activity near the border with Ukraine, US citizens located in or considering travel to Belarus should be aware that the situation is unpredictable and there is heightened tension in the region,” the department said in a travel advisory on its website.

Russia has said it did not intend to invade Ukraine. But it continues to conduct maneuvers along the border and in Belarus, involving tens of thousands of soldiers.

It also accuses the West of instigating militaristic sentiments with the supply of weapons.

The US government received a written response to the letter it sent last week to Moscow to discuss the situation in Ukraine, a state department spokesperson told EFE on Monday.

The spokesperson, who requested anonymity and did not reveal the letter contents, said it would be unproductive to negotiate in public.

He said the US remains “fully” committed to dialog to resolve these issues amid continued consultations with allies and partners, including Ukraine.

Last week, Moscow described Washington and NATO’s response to its demands for security guarantees for de-escalation in Ukraine as confusing.

The security guarantees demanded by Russia include a limit to NATO’s expansion, especially in Ukraine and Georgia, the cessation of all military cooperation with the former Soviet republics, and the withdrawal of troops and weapons deployed in countries that entered the alliance after 1997.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is likely to speak with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on the telephone on Tuesday amid escalated tensions over the deployment of Russian soldiers – some 100,000 – near the border with Ukraine.

The White House believes there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could invade Ukraine in February, although the Ukrainian government has downplayed the warning. EFE


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