Belarusian government demands that United States reduce its diplomatic staff in Minsk to five people

The Belarusian government has demanded that the United States should reduce its diplomatic staff in Minsk to five people.

Jonathan Moore, the US charge d’affaires in Minsk, was told at the Belarusian foreign ministry on Wednesday that the US embassy should provide the host government with a list of five American diplomats who will stay in Belarus, a source at the embassy told BelaPAN.

“Mr. Moore expressed a protest against the new demand and noted that this unprecedented and unjustified move by the Belarusian authorities would lead to serious consequences,” the source said.

Mr. Moore assured the Belarusian foreign ministry that he would promptly inform the US State Department and give a reply in due time.

“Owing to the preservation by the USA of sanctions against Belarusian economic entities, which restrict the scope of bilateral relations, and the USA’s denial of a mutually acceptable settlement of the situation, the Belarusian side, under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, suggested carrying out the Belarusian foreign ministry’s recommendation to reduce the American diplomatic presence in Minsk and the Belarusian one in Washington on a parity basis,” the Belarusian foreign ministry said in Wednesday’s statement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Viktar Haysyonak said on April 2 that Minsk wanted the staff of the Belarusian embassy in the United States and the US embassy in Belarus to consist of the ambassador and six more diplomats.

In late March, Washington yielded to the Belarusian authorities’ “recommendation” to reduce its embassy staff in Minsk to 17 officers.

Minsk’s demand that the United States further reduce the staff of its embassy in Minsk to seven is unwarranted and unjustified, Tom Casey, deputy spokesman of the US Department of State, said on April 5.