U.S. Relations With Belarus
More information about Belarus is available on the Belarus Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
Since Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka came to power in 1994, he has consolidated power through widespread repression. In 1996, Lukashenka reacted to western criticism of a referendum that dissolved Parliament and expanded the authority of the presidency by temporarily expelling the U.S. and EU Ambassadors. After a presidential election in 2006 that violated international norms and was neither free nor fair, the Unites States and the EU implemented travel restrictions and targeted financial sanctions on nine state-owned entities and 16 individuals (including Lukashenka). In 2008, after the United States tightened sanctions due to worsening human rights abuses, Belarus expelled the U.S. ambassador – a position that has remained vacant – and 30 out of 35 U.S. diplomats. Over this period, Belarus became almost wholly dependent upon Russia – politically, economically, and militarily. In August 2015, Lukashenka released all six of Belarus’ political prisoners. In response, the United States provided limited sanctions relief, suspending sanctions on the state-owned entities. Since sanctions relief began, Belarus has taken some steps to improve democracy and human rights. Increased bilateral engagement depends on Belarus making additional progress on human rights and democracy issues.
U.S. Assistance to Belarus
U.S. Government assistance to Belarus focuses on expanding democratic rights and fundamental freedoms and promoting a market economy by strengthening the private sector and stimulating entrepreneurship. A fact sheet on U.S. assistance to Belarus can be found here.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Belarusian authorities are reluctant to initiate basic economic reforms necessary to create a market-based economy, with seventy percent of the economy still under government control. Belarus' opaque legal and regulatory systems and rule of law deficiencies create a challenging business environment.
Belarus's Membership in International Organizations
Belarus is a member of a number of international organizations, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Eurasian Economic Union, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Belarus also is an observer to the World Trade Organization.
Belarus has capped the presence of U.S. diplomats, stationed or visiting for technical or administrative support. Principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.
Belarus maintains an embassy in the United States at 1619 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20009 (tel. 202-986-1604).
More information about Belarus is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
Department of State Belarus Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Belarus Page
USAID Belarus Page
History of U.S. Relations With Belarus
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions Page
Library of Congress Country Studies