“We proposed to the American side to reduce the number of its embassy staff in Minsk to five by September 1,” Belarusian ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said in a statement denouncing the “overt hostile” actions of the United States.
“As long as Washington continues to reduce cooperation in all areas and try to strangle our country economically, we objectively do not see any sense in the presence of a large American mission team in Belarus,” Glaz explained.
Glaz added that Belarus had also canceled the agreement to appoint Julie Fisher earlier this year as US ambassador to Minsk.
Julie Fisher did not hold this position.
On Monday, the United States imposed the toughest sanctions yet on the Belarusian economy and laid the groundwork for further tightening of restrictions in an attempt to tighten its grip on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
On the anniversary of anti-government protests against voter fraud in Belarus, Washington imposed sanctions on Belarus – one of the world’s largest fertilizer companies – and the Belarus National Olympic Committee, as well as prominent figures and companies in the energy, construction and tobacco sectors.
In coordination with Canada and the United Kingdom, which also announced new sanctions measures, the United States has imposed the most comprehensive sanctions package ever on Belarus, which penalizes 44 Belarusian companies and citizens.
Part of the sanctions also serve as a response to the diversion of a Ryanair civilian commercial airliner to Minsk in May to detain two passengers – independent opposition journalist Roman Protacevic and his girlfriend.
As a result of this incident, the US Treasury has blocked the assets under US jurisdiction of Belarusian Minister of Transport Alexei Avramenko and Director of Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Agriculture Artesyom Sikorsky, among others.
Sanctions will remain in place until “a legitimate international investigation into the diversion of Ryanair,” “all political prisoners” is released, “an end to the “harassment of activists and opponents” and a “comprehensive political investigation” is investigated,” the White House indicated to the dialogue. So that “free and fair elections” can be held.
Lukashenko criticized, on Tuesday, the new sanctions faced by Western countries, accusing them of their intention to overthrow a regime allied with Russia.
“The only thing that the West is looking for, contemptuously disregarding the results of expressing the will of the Belarusian people, is a change of power in Belarus,” reads a statement from the Minsk government.
Lukashenko’s re-election in the 2020 presidential election, which was considered rigged by the opposition and many Western countries, unleashed an unprecedented wave of protests in Belarus, which were violently suppressed by the regime.
Read also: Belarus. Minsk sees new sanctions in attempt to oust Lukashenko
“Writer. Analyst. Avid travel maven. Devoted twitter guru. Unapologetic pop culture expert. General zombie enthusiast.”