Russia and the US evacuate diplomatic staff from Ukraine

Russia and the United States said they would begin evacuating staff from their embassies and consulates in Ukraine on Saturday as Western allies prepare to launch a last-ditch effort to persuade Moscow to withdraw. its quantity.

The US state department ordered “most directly employed US personnel” to leave Kyiv on Saturday “due to the continued threat of Russian military action,” the embassy said.

Although US diplomats will maintain “a small consular presence” in Lviv in western Ukraine during the emergency, the embassy has urged all US citizens to leave Ukraine, after warned on Friday that Russia was preparing to launch a full-scale invasion as early as next week.

“American citizens in Ukraine should know that the US government will not be able to evacuate US citizens in the event of a Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine. The embassy said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday that Moscow had decided to “optimize” its staff at its embassy and three consulates in Ukraine “out of caution against possible provocations.” from the Kyiv regime or from third countries”.

US President Joe Biden and France’s Emmanuel Macron will speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in a last-ditch effort to convince him to pull back Russian forces.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is scheduled to visit Kyiv on Monday before meeting Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.

Map showing Russian forces building around Ukraine border

On Friday, the US, UK, Japan, Israel and the Netherlands urged their citizens to leave Ukraine and said they would withdraw some of their diplomats.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told the BBC British troops training Ukrainian forces would leave at the end of this week, although UK ambassador Melinda Simmons said she would stay in Kyiv.

The The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said British nationals in Ukraine should leave while commercial vehicles are still available and should not expect consular assistance in the event of Russian military action.

Russia has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade Ukraine but has warned of “the most unpredictable and serious consequences for European security” if the West does not agree to two draft security proposals. which they announced in December.

Negotiations with the US and NATO over Russia’s grievances against Nato last month ended unfavorably.

Moscow claims that US and European warnings about a Russian invasion of Ukraine cover up a potential “provocative action”.

Zakharova said Russia suspects the United States and Britain, the first Western countries to announce the withdrawal of their embassies, “know about some military action being prepared in Ukraine that could significantly complicate the situation.” security image”.

Russian embassies and consulates “will continue to fulfill their main functions,” added Zakharova.

On Friday, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the White House believes there is a credible prospect of Putin ordering an attack on Ukraine before the conclusion of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on the 20th. February.

The US believes that an invasion “potentially commencing with missile attacks and aerial bombing, could apparently kill civilians regardless of their nationality”, followed by a “major” ground invasion, said Sullivan.

Although the White House believes Putin has not made a final decision, Russia has built more than 130,000 troops along its borders with Ukraine and neighboring Belarus, as well as weapons that can be used for “rapid strikes.” into Kyiv.

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