On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry of Belarus said Minsk told the United States to decrease its embassy staff in Minsk and revoked its consent to Julie Fisher’s appointment as ambassador in response to the latest round of American sanctions.
In an interview posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website on 11th August, Anatol Hlaz, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said that Minsk (capital of Belarus) had informed the U.S. it wanted embassy staff decreased to five people by 1st September, describing that as their response to “their unfriendly and aggressive actions.”
Minsk has withdrawn its approval of the Julie Fisher @USAmbBelarus nomination as the ambassador to Belarus. She was sworn in as the first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus since 2008 on December 23, 2020. Ambassador Fisher hasn’t yet been able to come to #Belarus. #USA pic.twitter.com/RbuDVr9yyS
— Tania Reut (@tania_reut) August 11, 2021
Hlaz said considering that Belarus has lost confidence in the current United States government, they suspend cooperation in all-new grants, projects, and programs coordinated by the American administration until such trust is back. However, he added that Minsk retains the right to introduce extra measures in the future.
The first United States ambassador to Belarus for more than 12 years, Fisher, was confirmed by the Senate last December but has not been able to enter Belarus because the Belarusian administration has denied her a visa.
Belarusian Authorities Responsible for Worsening U.S.-Belarus Relations
Anatol Hlaz’s interview appeared after the United Kingdom, Canada, and America declared new trade and financial sanctions on Belarus on 9th August, the 1st anniversary of the presidential election that extended Lukashenka’s years-long rule and sparked an unexpected wave of demonstrations because of accusations that vote was rigged.
Lukashenko responded to the demonstrations by releasing a ferocious crackdown. Over thirty-two thousand people have been arrested, several hundred beaten by law enforcement on the streets and in detention, with torture claimed in several cases. Moreover, opposition leaders have been forced to flee or locked up.
Fisher said that they seen Belarus people speak clearly in support of an option. Moreover, they saw that election’s illicit nature in a way never seen before. The proof of illicit counting, ballots mishandling, all of that created a dynamic in which people’s voice in rejecting that illegal vote was particularly evident last year.
Furthermore, Ned Price, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said that Belarusian officials are responsible for the worsening Belarus-U.S. relations through persistent repression against their residents.