US orders embassy staff to leave Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion


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 fears of a Russian invasion.

The department told staff at the U.S. embassy in Kiev that they had to leave the country. He also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at the expense of the government.

The move comes amid growing tensions over Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s border, which were not eased during talks on Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. , in Geneva.

State Department officials stressed that the Kiev 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 a decline in US support for Ukraine, 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 increasing tensions around Ukraine with misinformation.

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Former Ukrainian ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko talks with CBC chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton about escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine. He says he is grateful for Canada’s support, but more is needed. 6:49

The State Department added: “Security conditions, especially along Ukraine’s borders, in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and may deteriorate with little warning. Demonstrations, sometimes violent, take place regularly in Ukraine, including Kiev. “

The department’s travel notice, which had warned of travel

Arrival in Ukraine due to COVID-19, as well as tensions over Russia, was changed on Sunday to bring a stronger warning.

“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increasing threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Be more careful in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased the risk,” he said. advise the department.

The travel warning for Russia was also changed: “Do not travel to Russia because of the continuing tension on the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against American citizens, the limited capacity of the embassy to to help U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry. restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and arbitrary enforcement of local law. “

A member of the Ukrainian military is seen on Sunday in a front-line shelter with Russian-backed separatists near Gorlivka in the Donetsk region on Sunday. (Anatolii Stepanov / AFP / Getty Images)

The State Department does not say how many Americans it believes currently exist in Ukraine. U.S. citizens are not required to register at embassies when they arrive or plan to stay abroad for extended periods.

In an email to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada did not comment on whether or not a similar decision has been made for Canadian embassy staff and their families, citing “security considerations.”