The State Department simultaneously reissued a Level 4 travel advisory for Belarus, warning U.S. nationals not to travel to the country “due to the Russian military attack on neighboring Ukraine, the accumulation of Russian military personnel in Belarus along the border with Ukraine, arbitrary application of laws, risk of detention, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions,” a statement read.
On Sunday, Belarus held a referendum that would change the country’s constitution and end its status as a nuclear-free zone. The proposed referendum – which Minsk would have won on Monday – would open up the possibility of Russian nuclear weapons being deployed in Belarus.
On Sunday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Belarus would be targeted, alongside Russia, by economic sanctions. “The Lukashenko regime is complicit in this brutal attack on Ukraine,” von der Leyen said.
Negotiators from Kyiv and Moscow met at noon local time on Monday at the Belarusian border.
The State Department also authorized the voluntary departure of non-emergency embassy employees and their family members to Moscow.
“Ultimately, we have no higher priority than the safety and security of American citizens, and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world,” Blinken said.