The U.S. is suspending operations at its embassy in Belarus and is allowing nonemergency employees and family members at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to leave.
The move, announced Monday, comes as the European Union and other nations have begun closing their airspace to Russian air traffic.
“We took these steps due to security and safety issues stemming from the unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine,” State Department officials said in a statement.
The U.S. Embassy in Russia on Sunday warned Americans to leave the country as soon as possible using any commercial option still available. It warned American citizens that the government would not be able to launch an evacuation effort from the country.
“We ultimately have no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens and that includes our U.S. government personnel and their dependents serving around the world,” State Department officials said Monday.
The decision to suspend operations at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk comes on the fifth day of Russia’s brazen attack on neighboring Ukraine. Belarus was one of the main staging areas for the invasion ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.