U.S. Embassy Minsk, Belarus
Occupied by the Russian empire since the end of the 18th century, Belarus declared a short-lived National Republic in 1918, only to be forcibly absorbed into the Soviet Union. It became independent in 1991. Since 1994, it has been run by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Under Lukashenko, U.S.-Belarusian relations have remained at a low level. After a presidential election in 2006 that violated international norms and was neither free nor fair, the United States and the European Union implemented travel restrictions and targeted financial sanctions on nine state-owned entities and 16 individuals (including Lukashenko). In 2008, after the United States tightened sanctions due to worsening human rights abuses, Belarus expelled the U.S. ambassador—a position that has remained vacant—and 30 out of 35 U.S. diplomats. In August 2015, Lukashenka released all six of Belarus’ political prisoners. In response, the United States provided limited sanctions relief, suspending sanctions on state-owned entities. Since sanctions relief began, Belarus has taken some steps to improve democracy and human rights. Increased bilateral engagement depends on Belarus making additional progress on human rights and democracy issues. U.S. Government assistance to Belarus focuses on expanding democratic rights and fundamental freedoms and promoting a market economy by strengthening the private sector and stimulating entrepreneurship.
On February 28, 2022, the U.S. Embassy in Minsk suspended operations. Although Embassy operations have been suspended, as Special Envoy Ambassador Fisher stated: “The United States will not be deterred from its commitment to helping advance democracy and human rights in Belarus and to supporting the aspirations of the Belarusian people to build a more promising future in a free and independent Belarus, nor will these recent measures cause us to abandon the outreach and engagement that have benefitted the Belarusian people and which have advanced the relations between our citizens.” The State Department, therefore, continues to provide information on our outreach and engagement efforts on the Embassy website.
United States Department of State, Office of the Historian and Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.