US Draws Down Ukraine Embassy 01/24 06:21
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.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.
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.
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.
The travel advisory for Russia was also changed: "Do not travel to Russia
due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for
harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy's limited ability to assist U.S.
citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism,
harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary
enforcement of local law."
The State Department would not say how many Americans it believes are
currently in Ukraine. U.S. citizens are not required to register with embassies
when they arrive or plan to stay abroad for extended periods.