The United States on Monday shuttered its embassy in Minsk and allowed non-emergency employees and family members to depart from its embassy in Moscow as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continued in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.
“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.
A photo posted on Twitter by U.S ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher on Monday showed mission staff lowering the American flag. All American staff have departed Belarus, Fisher tweeted.
The U.S. relocated its Ukraine embassy operations from the capital city of Kyiv to the western city of Lviv two weeks ago as Russian forces amassed at Ukraine‘s borders.
The latest evacuations come after Russian President Vladimir Putin put Russia’s nuclear deterrent on high alert on Sunday in the face of a barrage of Western reprisals for his war on Ukraine, which said it had repelled Russian ground forces attacking its biggest cities.
Meanwhile, Russia on Monday barred airlines from 36 countries from using Russian airspace after European nations and Canada on Sunday moved to shut their airspace to Russian aircraft.
The United States is considering similar action, but has yet to make a final decision, according to U.S. officials. The U.S. government over the weekend urged citizens to consider leaving Russia immediately on commercial flights amid the increasing flight cancellations.
Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters