Russia’s neighbor withdraws UK envoy

Belarus says the decision was made following “unfriendly steps” by London

Belarus has withdrawn its ambassador to the United Kingdom in response to “unfriendly steps” taken by British authorities, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz told Belta news agency on Friday.

Minsk’s decision to reduce the country’s diplomatic presence in the UK and lower it to a level of charge d’affaires was made “in connection with a number of unfriendly steps taken by the UK, systematically aimed at causing maximum damage to Belarusian citizens and legal entities,” Glaz explained.

According to the spokesman, Belarus has found it impossible to hold any meaningful dialogue with the UK after it imposed “unprecedented” sanctions targeting Belarussian citizens, employees, companies, economy, media and airlines. He made specific mention of the decision to withdraw visas for Belarusian deputies who were supposed to attend the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in early July.

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He added that the withdrawal of the ambassador did not mean that the country would be closing communication channels with London.

“We did not initiate any steps against this country and, as always, call for mutually respectful and constructive dialogue,” Glaz said. He added that Belarus would consider restoring its diplomatic presence in the UK only after the current “internal political show” is over and responsible politicians appear within the British government.

On July 4, the UK introduced its latest round of economic, trade and transportation sanctions on Belarus over its support for Moscow and the ongoing military operation in Ukraine. The restrictions involved a ban on importing Belarusian steel and iron to the UK as well as a ban on exporting advanced technology components to Belarus.