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Belarus Kicks Out US Diplomats With New Limits in US Embassy Minsk Staffing

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According to the June 3 statement from the Belarus Foreign Ministry, the government summoned the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Minsk and informed him of retaliatory measures against the United States. The measures include the reduction of the diplomatic and administrative-technical personnel of the American diplomatic mission, the tightening of visa procedures, the limitation of the work of American specialists in Belarus on a temporary basis. The government also revoked the work permit for the US Agency for International Development.
In 2008, the Belarusian Government imposed restrictions on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Minsk, and the State Department was forced to reduce its embassy staff from 35 to five diplomats as well as withdraw the U.S. Ambassador. The number of U.S. diplomats was later increased to six in July 2014. We are not sure how many were at post prior to this latest development. The current CDA Ruben Harutunian assumed his duties as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk on May 24, 2021.
In April 2020, with improved relations with the dictator in Belarus, the Trump Administration announced the nomination of  career diplomat Julie Fisher as the first U.S. Ambassador to Minsk since 2008. She was confirmed in December 2020. In April this year, the new ambassador was reportedly to reside in Lithuania temporarily as she was not granted a visa for Belarus.

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U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher to Temporarily Reside in Lithuania

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LRT News citing Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas reports that the new U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fisher will temporarily reside in Lithuania as she does not have a visa to travel to Minsk. The United States has reportedly asked the Lithuanian government for accreditation for Ambassador Fisher.  The local medial outlet notes that the US embassy to Lithuania confirmed to BNS that Belarus had not yet issued a visa to Ambassador Fisher, but did not comment on her temporary residence in Vilnius.

 

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Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Julie D. Fisher to be U.S. Ambassador to Belarus

On April 20, 2020, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate career diplomat Julie D. Fisher, of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Belarus. The WH released the following brief bio:

Julie Fisher, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Europe and the European Union in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.  She also served on special assignment as Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Russia.

Previously, Ms. Fisher was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to NATO; the Chief of Staff to the State Department’s Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources; and the Director of the State Department Operations Center.

Earlier assignments include service as Deputy Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO and, before that, as Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Ms. Fisher earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.P.P. from Princeton University.  She speaks Russian, French, and Georgian.

According to history.state.gov, the last Senate confirmed ambassador to Belarus was Karen Brevard Stewart (1952–)  who served from October 24, 2006–March 12, 2008.  Between then and now, we had six chargé d’affaires who served in Belarus, with CDA Michael Scanlan who served  almost four years from 2009-2013. If confirmed, DAS Fisher would be the first U.S. Ambassador to Minsk since 2008.

 

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