Updated Jan 31, 2022 - World

State Department orders diplomats' families to leave Belarus

Lukashenko and Putin

Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS via Getty Images

The State Department ordered the family members of U.S. government staff in Belarus to evacuate on Monday, citing the "unusual and concerning Russian military buildup along Belarus’ border with Ukraine."

Why it matters: The advisory comes just over a week after the State Department ordered a similar evacuation from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, prompting the Ukrainian government to accuse the U.S. of causing a panic over the threat of a possible Russian invasion.

  • U.S. officials have warned that Russia may be using joint military exercises inside Belarus as cover for an invasion of Ukraine from the north, potentially allowing Moscow to target nearby Kyiv.
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned Monday that the U.S. has evidence Russia plans to add an additional 30,000 troops near the Belarus-Ukraine border by early February.

What they're saying: "Due to an increase in unusual and concerning Russian military activity near the border with Ukraine, 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 State Department said in a travel advisory.

  • "The U.S. government’s ability to provide routine or emergency services to U.S. citizens in Belarus is already severely limited due to Belarusian government limitations on U.S. Embassy staffing."

Go deeper: What Putin's Ukraine options look like

Go deeper