The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the country’s authorities are withdrawing the approval to work in Minsk that it had given to US Ambassador Julie Fischer. The US Embassy in Belarus stated that the responsibility for the deterioration in relations between countries lies with the Minsk regime.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday that the Belarusian authorities withdrew their consent to work in Minsk for the US Ambassador Julie Fischer and demanded that the number of US embassy employees be limited to five. This is a response to the sanctions imposed by the US authorities.

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“The rude and openly hostile actions of the American side, as well as the actions of individual representatives, which are completely contrary to the idea of ​​diplomacy and professionalism, destroyed the achievements of our predecessors and forced us to rescind the previously issued approval for Julie Fisher to become the US ambassador to our country, “- said the spokesperson for the State Department, Wednesday.

Reply from the US Embassy in Minsk

Commenting on Minsk’s reaction to the US sanctions, the US embassy said, on Wednesday evening, that “the responsibility for the deterioration of relations between the United States and Belarus lies with the regime and its inability to allow independent voices in the country and fulfill its international obligations.” .

The Americans emphasized that they “will continue to support Belarusian society and cooperate with pro-democracy circles, the media, students, lecturers, athletes and other representatives of civil society.”

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Julie FisherMichael Reynolds/PAP/EPA

“On August 9, commemorating the fraudulent presidential elections in Belarus, the United States, in cooperation with allies and partners, introduced new tools aimed at holding Alexander Lukashenka and his regime responsible for the ongoing brutal repression against Belarusians at home and abroad,” the US Embassy wrote in a statement. “The Lukashenka regime responded today with threats and attempts to intimidate and impose further restrictions on the space for dialogue.”

The statement stated that the United States clearly indicated the necessary measures to resolve the crisis in Belarus, in line with the recommendations of the OSCE mission: the immediate release of political prisoners, real and inclusive dialogue with the opposition and civil society, as well as the free and fair elections were conducted with the participation of international observers.

A limited number of US Embassy employees in Belarus

On Wednesday, the US Chargé d’Affairs in Belarus was summoned to the State Department. Julie Fisher, despite prior approval, has not yet been accepted into Belarus and approved because the authorities in Minsk refused to issue her a visa. In addition, the number of US Embassy staff will be limited to five by September 1. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry sees no point in having more diplomats in the country, given the level of US relations and sanctions.

Given the “loss of confidence in the current US administration”, Minsk halted all efforts to agree on new projects, grants and programs with the US government.

The United States imposes sanctions on the Belarusian authorities

On Monday, the authorities The United States announced the introduction of the next phase of sanctions towards the Belarusian authorities. Among them are 27 people and 17 entities, including businessmen close to Alexander Lukashenka, the Belarus Olympic Committee and two major state-owned enterprises. Canada and the United Kingdom also announced their own sanctions.

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Since 2008, the US Embassy in Minsk has been operating without an ambassador. The dismissal of the then-ambassador and the downsizing of the post was Minsk’s response to Washington’s sanctions. In recent years, the United States and Belarus have gradually lifted their mutual restrictions, but the process has been hampered by the events of 2020 in Belarus – seen as rigged presidential elections and mass repression of peaceful protest participants.

Main image source: Michael Reynolds/PAP/EPA