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State Department orders evacuation of families of US diplomats from Ukraine

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The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory issued late Sunday.

Why it matters: The move underscores US fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten the embassy’s ability to help Americans.

At the heart of the news: “On January 23, 2022, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of American employees in direct recruitment and ordered the departure of eligible family members from the Embassy in Kyiv due to the continuing threat of Russian military action,” the State Department said. in a travel advisory.

“U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using available commercial or private transportation.” “Security conditions, especially along Ukraine’s borders, in Russian-occupied Crimea and in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate over time. Demonstrations, sometimes violent , perform regularly throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

Between the lines: Senior State Department officials told reporters on a conference call that it was not a specific change in the security situation that led to Sunday’s decision, but the “totality” of the Russian military build-up and threatening posture towards Ukraine in recent years. month.

Officials declined to provide estimates on how many family members will be evacuated or how many Americans remain in Ukraine, citing a lack of accurate data. not be able to evacuate US citizens,” one official said.

Overview: Russia continues to muster forces on all sides of the Ukrainian border, including with significant new deployments in Belarus and additional military aid to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The British government on Sunday accused Russia of plotting to overthrow the Ukrainian government in Kiev and install a pro-Russian puppet regime. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, where he agreed to provide answers to Russia’s demands for a freeze on NATO expansion. Blinken said that Lavrov had once again assured him that Russia had no intention of attacking Ukraine, but added: “We are looking at what is visible to everyone, and these are the deeds and the actions, not words, make the difference”.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with new details.

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