State Dept. orders families of US personnel to leave Belarus

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State Dept. orders families of US personnel to leave Belarus

The State Department has directed family members of US government personnel to leave Belarus and warned Americans not to visit due to “Russian military buildup” along the country’s border with Ukraine. 

A travel advisory issued Monday warned Americans who are either in Belarus or thinking of traveling there to “be aware that the situation is unpredictable and there is heightened tension in the region.”

Last month, the State Department ordered the families of US personnel at the embassy in Kiev to evacuate. 

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops and heavy weaponry along Ukraine’s eastern border, and the US and its Western allies believe an invasion could happen at any time. 

Amid the standoff, Russian President Vladimir Putin has dispatched forces into Belarus to take part in military exercises this month, operations that would put troops within 50 miles of Kiev. 

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned during a heated Security Council meeting Monday that the Kremlin has “moved nearly 5,000 troops into Belarus, with short-range ballistic missiles, special forces, and anti-aircraft batteries.”

The State Department ordered family members of US government personnel to leave Belarus and Americans not to visit because of the "Russian military buildup" along the country's border with Ukraine.
The travel advisory was warning Americans in or thinking of traveling to Belarus.
Russian military vehicles prepares to drive off a railway platforms after arrival in Belarus.
Russian military vehicles prepares to drive off a railway platforms after arrival in Belarus.
Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

“We’ve seen evidence that Russia intends to expand that presence to more than 30,000 troops near the Belarus-Ukraine border, less than two hours north of Kiev, by early February,” Thomas-Greenfield continued. 

During the meeting, Thomas-Greenfield repeatedly clashed with Russia’s ambassador Vasily Nebenzya over Moscow’s intentions, with Nebenzya accusing the US of “whipping up hysterics” about a possible invasion of Ukraine.

“You are almost pulling for this,” he told Thomas-Greenfield. “You want it to happen. You’re waiting for it to happen, as if you want to make your words become a reality.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks at a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the situation between Russia and Ukraine on January 31, 2022 in New York City.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
An instructor shows how to use weapons to a group of women during training in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022.
An instructor shows how to use weapons to a group of women during training in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022.
AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

“Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you had 100,000 troops on your border,” the US envoy responded.

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