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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during a May meeting in Minsk. Photo: Dmitry Astakhov/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Belarus' government announced Wednesday retaliatory measures against the United States, including blocking the U.S. ambassador from entering its country.

Driving the news: The Biden administration, along with the governments of Canada and the United Kingdom, imposed fresh sanctions against Belarus on Monday, the first anniversary of a fraudulent election that sparked huge protests and a crackdown by the security forces of authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko.

  • Belarus Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anatoly Glaz confirmed in comments posted to the ministry's website that the government had rescinded an earlier agreement for the appointment of Julie Fisher as the U.S. ambassador to the country. He also demanded that the U.S. embassy in the capital Minsk cut its staff team to five people by Sept. 1.
  • "In recent years, our countries have come a long way in bringing diplomatic relations to a more or less acceptable level," Glaz said. "So it is a pity that the impudent and openly hostile actions of the American side … destroyed the achievements of their predecessors."

What they're saying: The U.S. embassy in Minsk said in a statement after the Belarusian government's retaliatory measures that "the Lukashenka regime responded with threats, attempts to intimidate, and a further diminution of space for dialogue."  

  • "Responsibility for the deterioration in U.S.-Belarus relations lies with the regime and its inability to allow independent voices to emerge in Belarus as well as its unwillingness to meet its international commitments," the statement added.

Go deeper

Aug 16, 2021 - World

U.S. joins 60 countries in urging safe exit of citizens from Afghanistan

A Qatar Airways aircraft takes off from Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport on Saturday. Photo: Wakil Koshar/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. and over 60 countries issued a joint statement Sunday saying Afghans and international citizens who wish to leave the country should be allowed to do so, with airports and border crossings remaining open.

Driving the news: The statement was issued as the U.S. completed its evacuation of American Embassy staff and prepared to take over Kabul airport's air traffic control to fly personnel out of Afghanistan after the Taliban swept into the capital earlier in the day.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.