Belarus on Friday ordered its ambassador in the UK to return to the isolated country over London’s “hostile” sanctions against Minsk for its suppression of 2020 mass protests and role in Russia’s Ukraine offensive.
Belarus has been ruled by authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko since 1994.
“A decision was made to lower the level of diplomatic representation of our country in London,” Belarus’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
It made the move “in connection to a number of hostile, unfriendly, steps by Great Britain.”
Minsk said recalling the ambassador “does not mean that we are closing communication channels with London.”
“We did not initiate any moves against our country and, as previously, are for mutual respectful and constructive dialogue,” it said.
The UK was among a number of Western countries that imposed sanctions on Lukashenko’s regime for its suppression of mass anti-government protests in 2020.
Western countries slapped Minsk with new sanctions this year for its role in Russia's Ukraine offensive launched on February 24.
Russian troops attacked Ukraine from several directions, including from Belarusian territory.
Lukashenko, a former Soviet state farm director, relied on his Russian ally Vladimir Putin to suppress the 2020 protests.
He welcomed Russian troops under the pretext of military exercises in the months before Moscow launched its offensive.