According to the representative of the State Department, Ambassador Fischer and the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Minsk will continue to support the democratic movement in Belarus.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said that U.S. Ambassador to Belarus Julie Fischer and the staff of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Minsk “will continue to support the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus,” including through interaction with “leaders of the movement for the defense of democracy.”

“In all this, it is important to remember and recognize that the Belarusian authorities are responsible for the deterioration of U.S.-Belarusian relations due to the ruthless repression against their citizens,” Price said, answering journalists ‘ questions during a press briefing at the State Department.

He added that the United States is “disappointed” with the current state of relations with Belarus.

Official Minsk on Wednesday ordered the United States to reduce the number of employees of its embassy after Washington imposed a new round of sanctions against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.

“The American side has been offered to reduce the number of its embassy in Minsk to 5 people by September 1,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz said in a statement.

According to him, this proposal responds to the “audacious and openly hostile actions” of the United States.

“But against the background of Washington’s actions to reduce cooperation in all spheres and the economic strangulation of our country, we also quite objectively do not see any sense in the presence of such a significant staff of the American diplomatic mission in Belarus,” Glaz said.

The representative of the Foreign Ministry added that Belarus had withdrawn its consent to the appointment of Julie Fischer as the U.S. ambassador. A career diplomat, Fischer was approved in December as the first U.S. envoy to Belarus since 2008, but she could never fully start working: Minsk did not issue Fischer an entry visa.