State Department urges US citizens to ‘depart immediately’ from Belarus

State Department urges US citizens to ‘depart immediately’ from Belarus

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The State Department is warning U.S. travelers to avoid Belarus due to its involvement in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.  

The department cites Russia’s military buildup within Belarus, its “arbitrary enforcement of laws,” the risk of detention and COVID-19 as reasons to stay out of the country. Belarus has been a staging area for Russian troops ahead of the invasion of Ukraine that started Thursday.  

“Due to Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine from Belarus, U.S. 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’s website reads. “Potential harassment targeted specifically at foreigners is also possible.”

TRAVEL WARNINGS: US travelers urged to leave Ukraine ‘immediately if it is safe to do so’ amid Russia invasion

A senior U.S. intelligence official said Belarus is expected to send troops into Ukraine to fight alongside Russian troops as soon as Monday, according to The Associated Press. The country has offered support for Russia’s war effort but has so far not been directly involved in the conflict.  

U.S. citizens in Belarus are asked to depart “immediately.” The guidance comes after the State Department suspended operations of the U.S. embassy in Minsk Monday morning and ordered U.S. government employees to leave the country.

The department already warned against travel to Ukraine and Russia due to the ongoing conflict in the region.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter: @bailey_schulz. 

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