Updated at 17:34,27-10-2020

Belarus President Appoints Ambassador To U.S. Ending 12-Year Gap


Belarus President Appoints Ambassador To U.S. Ending 12-Year Gap
Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Kravchenko has been appointed Ambassador of Belarus to the United States. Belarus hadn’t had its representative in the U.S. for 12 years. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko appointed a new ambassador on 20 July.

The post of the Belarusian ambassador to the U.S. was vacant for 12 years. New Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to the U.S. Oleg Kravchenko is expected to travel to Washington in August.

Before the cooling in bilateral relations, Kravchenko had already worked at the Belarusian Embassy in the United States. In 2007, he was an advisor to the Belarusian Embassy in the United States, from 2008 to 2014 – Charge d’Affaires of Belarus in the United States.

In 2014, Kravchenko returned to Minsk and headed the U.S. and Canada Department of the America Department, and then the America Department of the Foreign Ministry. He was appointed to the post of Deputy Minister in 2017.

Over the past few years, Oleg Kravchenko has paid more than one official visit to Washington and represented Belarus at various negotiations and meetings with his American colleagues.

[h2]12-year break/h2]
The cap on the U.S. diplomats in Minsk dates back to 2008 when Belarus expelled the U.S. ambassador retaliating for the sanctions Washington had imposed for poor human rights record and untransparent elections.

Minsk withdrew its ambassador and staff accordingly. Between 2008 and 2018 the quota was gradually expanded from 5 to 10 diplomats as relations between the USA and Belarus got unfrozen.

The embassies in Minsk and Washington were headed by charge d’affaires. The normal size of a U.S. embassy in a country like Belarus is about 30 diplomats plus local staff.

This January, MFA head Vladimir Makei reportedly called U.S. Assistant State Secretary Wess Mitchell to inform him about the decision to lift a long-standing cap on the number of U.S. diplomats in the country.

In March, Vladimir Makei met with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and officially announced the lifting of restrictions on the number of employees of the U.S. Embassy in Minsk.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, during his visit to Minsk this February, said that the United States would soon appoint an ambassador to Belarus.

On 3 February, U.S. President Donald Trump submitted for the approval of the United States Congress the candidacy of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Europe and the European Union Julie Fisher to the post of the U.S. Ambassador to Belarus.

On 4 February, Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said that Belarus is ready to send its ambassador to the United States within a few months.

The U.S. is closely monitoring the presidential elections in Belarus. On 16 July, the U.S. State Department expressed its concern about the mass arrests of peaceful activists in Belarus.

On 18 July, Charge d’Affaires of the United States Jenifer H. Moore completed her two-year mission in Minsk, new Deputy Chief of Mission Jeffrey Giauque took over the role of the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk until the ambassador arrives.