Occupied by the Russian empire since the end of the 18th century, Belarus declared a short-lived National Republic on March 25, 1918 only to be forcibly absorbed by the Bolsheviks into what became the Soviet Union. Occupied by Nazi Germany, Belarus was retaken by Stalin’s Russia in 1944 and remained under Soviet control until declaring its sovereignty on July 27, 1990 and independence from the Soviet Union on August 25, 1991. It has been run by authoritarian PresidentAlexander Lukashenko since 1994. Under Lukashenko U.S.-Belarusian relations have remained at a low level, despite efforts with the European Union to set benchmarks for improving Belarus’ human rights and electoral practices.
Modern Flag of Belarus
The United States recognized Belarus’s independence on December 25, 1991, when President George H.W. Bush announced the decision in an address to the nation regarding the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Belarus previously had been a constituent republic of the USSR.
Diplomatic relations were established on December 25, 1991, when President George H.W. Bush announced the decision in an address to the nation regarding the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The American Embassy in Minsk was established on January 31, 1992, with John Ford as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim.
Ambassador Karen B. Stewart was recalled on March 12, 2008 following a threat of expulsion by Belarusian authorities and the recall of Belarus’ Ambassador to the United States. Belarus subsequently voluntarily reduced the staff at its U.S. missions, excluding the mission to the UN, to five persons and demanded the U.S. reciprocate by reducing the U.S. Embassy in Minsk to five diplomats. When the U.S. refused to comply, Belarusian authorities expelled several U.S. diplomats to reduce U.S. Embassy staffing to five diplomats.