US issues alert to citizens in Belarus to "depart immediately"

The embassy explained that local laws are being applied arbitrarily and that there is a significant risk of arrest.

The U.S. Embassy in Belarus issued a statement warning U.S. citizens that they should not travel to the country and suggesting those there leave immediately.

The State Department already had Belarus classified as a level 4 risk, representing the highest security warning. This is due to several reasons, including laws being applied arbitrarily, which increases the risk of detention for Americans.

“Do not travel to Belarus due to Belarusian authorities’ continued facilitation of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the buildup of Russian military forces in Belarus, the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, the potential of civil unrest, the risk of detention, and the Embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Belarus,” suggested the embassy, adding that citizens already there should leave immediately by plane or consider border crossings with Lithuania and Latvia.

“U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter Poland overland from Belarus. Do not travel to Russia or to Ukraine,” the statement said.

The warning came after Poland, Lithuania and Latvia stepped up security along their borders and reported possibly closing their border crossings with Belarus.

The Wagner Group in Belarus

Neighboring countries of Belarus have expressed growing concern due to the presence of the Wagner Group and the possibility of operations being established in that country.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the paramilitary organization, arrived in Belarus after a failed uprising against Moscow in June, and now fighters from the group have reportedly started to join him in that country.