BREAKING NEWS: US orders family members of Embassy personnel in Kyiv to leave Ukraine due to ‘threat of military action’
- U.S. said it was ordering the departure of eligible family members of staff from its embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine
- The U.S. said all citizens should consider leaving due to the ‘threat of military action from Russia’
- Move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks on Friday
- State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation
- Talks between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva were uneventful prior to the weekend
The State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion.
The department told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.
The move came amid rising tensions about Russia‘s military buildup on the Ukraine border that were not eased during talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.
Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine. Dozens of civilians have been joining Ukraine’s army reserves in recent weeks amid fears about Russian invasion
Russia has denied it is planning an invasion, but Vladimir Putin has issued demands to the West which he says concern Russia’s security, including not allowing Ukraine to join Nato
State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation.
The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of U.S. support for Ukraine, the officials said.
In a statement, the State Department noted recent reports that Russia was planning significant military action against Ukraine. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry has accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.
The State Department added: ‘The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine´s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice.
People rallying in patriotic support of Ukraine hold a 500 meter long ribbon in the colours of the Ukrainian flag on Unity Day (January 22)
Civilian participants in a Kyiv Territorial Defence unit train in a forest on Saturday, with thousands of civilians receiving basic combat training
Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.’
The department’s travel advisory, which had warned against traveling to Ukraine because of COVID-19 as well as the tensions over Russia, was changed Sunday to carry a stronger warning.
‘Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk,’ the department advised.
People with Ukrainian flags attend a patriotic rally at Sophia Square on Unity Day. Speakers at the rally demanded Ukrainian membership in the European Union and the NATO military alliance and derided Russian President Vladimir Putin
A Russian rocket launcher fires during military drills near Orenburg in the Urals, Russia, last month