State Department urges U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine amid Russia tensions

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Representatives of the People’s Police of the Luhansk People’s Republic show a captured domestically-made attack drone equipped with a grenade launcher, used by Ukrainian government forces, near Slavianoshebsk in eastern Ukraine.

Alexander Reka | TASS | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department on Sunday advised all U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately, citing Russia’s extraordinary military buildup at the border.

“Our advice to U.S. citizens currently in Ukraine is that they should consider leaving now using commercial or private transportation,” a senior State Department official said in a call with reporters Sunday night.

For months, the West has watched the unusual deployment of Russian troops and equipment along its border with Ukraine.

That buildup sparked Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea on the Black Sea peninsula, which sparked an international uproar and sparked a slew of sanctions against Moscow. The Crimea seizure also resulted in Russia being removed from the Group of 8, or G8, which refers to the world’s eight major economies.

“The security situation, especially on the Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, is unpredictable and could deteriorate without notice,” the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity. say to share details.

Another senior State Department official said they could not provide the exact number of U.S. citizens living or currently traveling in Ukraine.

“U.S. citizens are not required to register their travel to foreign countries, and we do not have a complete list,” the official explained.

The State Department also ordered the families of eligible personnel from its embassy in Kiev to leave the country due to deteriorating security conditions.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov take their seats before their meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, January 21, 2022.

Russian Foreign Ministry | via Reuters

The latest news comes less than two days after face-to-face talks between Moscow and Washington.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told his Russian foreign minister on Friday that the Kremlin could ease tensions and fears of a potential invasion by withdrawing 100,000 troops and equipment from the Ukrainian border.

Blinken’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came as Western officials, including President Joe Biden, said they expected Moscow to invade Ukraine. U.S. intelligence has said Russia could launch an attack within a month.

Blinken said the United States did not believe Russia’s claim that it was not prepared to invade its former Soviet neighbor.

“If Russia wants to start convincing the world that it has no aggressive intentions towards Ukraine, a good place to start is to de-escalate the situation by bringing back and withdrawing these forces from the Ukrainian border,” Blinken said in a 90-minute meeting with Lavrov in Geneva.

“We and all of our allies and partners are equally committed to ensuring that we do everything possible to make it clear to Russia that there will be a swift, harsh and unified response to any form of Russian aggression against Ukraine,” Blinken added.

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Meanwhile, Russian officials have repeatedly called on the United States to block the eastward expansion of NATO, the world’s most powerful military alliance.

Russia also demanded that the United States “refrain from establishing military bases on the territory of any former Soviet state that is not a member of NATO” or “use its infrastructure for any military activity or for the development of bilateral military cooperation.”

Since 2002, Ukraine has sought to join NATO, whose Article 5 states that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all members.

When asked about the demands on Friday, Blinken said the United States and the NATO alliance would not negotiate the terms of membership with the Kremlin.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters at a Jan. 10 news conference: “We need ironclad, waterproof, bulletproof, legally binding guarantees. Not guarantees, not guarantees , but a guarantee.”

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