The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential personnel from the US embassy in Kiev this week, according to a travel advisory released Sunday evening.
Why it matters: The move underscores US fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy’s ability to help Americans.
Send the news: “On January 23, 2022, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure of US workers directly employed and ordered the departure of eligible relatives from Embassy Kiev due to the continued threat of Russian military action,” it said. Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a travel advice. .
- “U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider leaving now with commercial or other privately available transportation options.”
- “Security conditions, especially along the Ukrainian borders, in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate rapidly. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly take place across Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”
Between the lines: Senior foreign ministry officials told reporters during a briefing that it was not a specific change in the security situation that led to Sunday’s decision, but the “totality” of Russia’s military buildup and threatening attitude towards Ukraine in recent months. .
- The officials declined to provide estimates of how many family members will be evacuated or how many Americans will remain in Ukraine, citing a lack of accurate data.
- “Since the president has said military action from Russia could come at any moment, the US government will not be able to evacuate US citizens,” an official stressed.
The big picture: Russia continues to rally troops on all sides of the Ukrainian border, including with significant new deployments in Belarus and additional military aid to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
- The British government accused Russia on Sunday of plotting to overthrow the Ukrainian government in Kiev and install a pro-Russian puppet regime.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, where he agreed to provide written responses to Russia’s demand to freeze NATO expansion.
- Blinken said Lavrov reassured him that Russia has no intention of attacking Ukraine, but added: “We look at what is visible to everyone, and it is deeds and actions, not words, that make the difference.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated throughout with new details.