Ukraine Crisis

U.S. orders families of embassy staff to leave Ukraine

Published : January 24, 2022 16:51 IST

The United States has ordered the departure of family members of Kiev embassy staff. Photo: Stringer/Sputnik/dpa/picture alliance

The U.S. State Department cited a "continued threat of Russian military action" toward Ukraine.

Relatives of U.S. diplomats stationed in Kyiv should start leaving Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said on January 23. The State Department advised against traveling to Ukraine due to "increased threats of Russian military action" and COVID-19. In a travel advisory published on its website, the State Department said that there were reports Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine.

What else did the State Department say?

Besides ordering the departure of eligible family members of the Kyiv embassy staff, Washington also authorized the voluntary departure of embassy employees. According to the AP news agency, their departure is at the U.S. government's expense. "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," the State Department's travel advisory said. "Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv."

AP cited State Department officials as saying that the embassy will remain open and the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. They added that the move does not reflect an easing of U.S. support for Ukraine and had been under consideration for some time. Late on January 23, the State Department also reissued its advisory for Russia, warning U.S. citizens not to travel there, due to "ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine." It also advised U.S. citizens not to travel from Russia to Ukraine by land.

What is the situation in Ukraine?

The announcement comes in the wake of Western and Ukrainian concerns over Russian military build-up along its border with Ukraine. On January 22, the British Foreign Office claimed that Russia was seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, a claim which Russia called "misinformation." Germany's defense minister Christine Lambrecht called for the de-escalation of tensions in an interview on January 22, adding that Germany would not supply arms to Ukraine. Talks between the United States and Russia on January 21 failed to produce any major breakthroughs on the issue.

sdi/fb (AFP, AP, Reuters)