The No. 2 U.S. diplomat will visit Russia and Lithuania soon for talks on Belarus, two sources familiar with the matter said Friday, as Washington seeks a peaceful resolution to that country’s election crisis that averts Russian intervention.

Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun’s planned mission signals a greater U.S. role in trying to settle the strife that erupted when Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brutally cracked down on peaceful protesters rejecting his claim of a landslide Aug. 9 election win.

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