The Government of the United States has decided to temporarily shift its Embassy in Ukraine from Kiev to Lviv, near the Polish border, as a precaution amid mounting rumors of a Russian invasion allegedly scheduled for Feb.16, just when Presidents Vladimir Putin and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro are to meet in Moscow.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday in a statement that he ordered this measure out of prudence and to guarantee the safety of his diplomatic staff.
We are in the process of temporarily relocating our embassy operations from Kiev to Lviv, due to the drastic acceleration in the Russian troop buildup, Blinken said.
The announcement came two days after the US ordered the departure from Ukraine of all non-essential embassy staff as well as the suspension of consular services.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the State Department also ordered the destruction of computers and other equipment to connect to embassy networks in the Ukrainian capital, in addition to the dismantling of the mission's telephone system.
The confidential equipment landed Sunday at Dulles airport just outside Washington DC, along with 56 embassy workers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Blinken vowed a prompt return to the Kiev embassy as soon as conditions allow [it]. He also insisted all US citizens in Ukraine should leave the country immediately.
The path of diplomacy remains open if Russia decides to take it in good faith, Blinken also pointed out. We also continue our sincere efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, and we remained engaged with the Russian government following President [Joseph] Biden's call with President Putin and my discussion with Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov, he explained.
Russia has constantly denied planning an invasion, saying it is a sovereign state and has the right to station its troops anywhere on its territory and has made a number of demands to both the US and NATO so that Ukraine does not join the North Atlantic Organization. Russia has amassed some 130,000 troops and large quantities of military equipment at its border with Ukraine.
The US State Department has also asked American citizens to leave Belarus immediately and warned against traveling to the region. Americans can enter Poland via its land border with Ukraine without requiring any advanced approvals from Tuesday onwards, the US travel advisory statement said.
Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said his country take appropriate steps, including possible sanctions, in coordination with G7 leaders if Russia invades Ukraine.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schalleberg said his country's diplomats would remain in Kyiv and criticized other countries for pulling their staff from the Ukrainian capital. He added he was confident German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is to visit Moscow Tuesday, would convey to Russia that European nations were open to serious talks.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held separate talks with the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine on Monday, after which the Portugal-born leader hoped there will be no conflict. Guterres also said it was time to defuse tensions between Russia and the West.
Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office said Downing Street still believed there was a chance for Russia to step back, following a telephone conversation with Biden, during which they also agreed on the the need for countries in Europe to become less dependent on Russian gas.
Top CommentsDisclaimer & comment rules
Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!