U.S. reduces Ukrainian embassy presence as war fears mount

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The picture shows the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine.

Voladimir Tarasov | Ukrainian Form | Barcroft Studio | Future Publishing | Getty Images

The U.S. State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all U.S. personnel at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened concerns about a Russian invasion.

The department told the families of U.S. embassy workers in Kiev that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at a government fee.

The move comes as tensions escalate over Russia’s military buildup on the Ukrainian border, which was not eased by talks between Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday.

State Department officials stressed that the Kiev embassy would remain open and that the announcement did not constitute an evacuation. The move, which has been under consideration for some time, does not reflect a loosening of U.S. support for Ukraine, officials said.

In a statement, the U.S. State Department pointed to recent reports that Russia is planning a major military action against Ukraine. However, Russia’s foreign ministry accused NATO countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine through disinformation.

The State Department added: “The security situation, especially along the Ukrainian border, in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, is unpredictable and can deteriorate without notice. Sometimes it evolves into Violent demonstrations are frequent all over Ukraine, including Kiev.”

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The ministry’s travel advisory, which had warned against travel to Ukraine due to Covid-19 and tensions in Russia, was changed to a stronger warning on Sunday.

“Due to increased Russian military operations and the threat of COVID-19, do not travel to Ukraine. Be more cautious in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Increased risk in certain areas,” the department advised.


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