US State Department authorizes departure for diplomats, their families from Ukraine
The U.S. Department of State on Monday authorized the departure of U.S. government employees and their family members from Ukraine due to the ongoing threat of Russian invasion, the Embassy of the United States in Kyiv tweeted on Jan. 24.
“The Department of State made the decision to authorize departure from Mission Ukraine out of an abundance of caution due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine,” the U.S. Embassy wrote, adding that while the departure of diplomats is voluntary, their families are being ordered to evacuate.
The Embassy stressed that the decision was made due to a need to ensure “the safety and security of our diplomats and the American people.”
At the same time, the diplomats stated that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv remains open, “though it currently has a reduced capacity to process nonimmigrant visas due to COVID-19 restrictions.”
Since late October, Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border.
As of early December, about 100,000 Russian soldiers were deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in the temporarily occupied territories in the Donbas, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said in Ukraine’s parliament on Dec. 3.
International media have speculated that Russia may invade Ukraine in early 2022, in an operation that could involve up to 200,000 Russian soldiers.
The Kremlin says the troop movements are an internal affair of the Russian Federation.
At the same time, Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning “provocations,” and alleged that Kyiv plans to regain control of the occupied territories by military means. The Kremlin has failed to back up any of its allegations with evidence, however.
Russian troops have also been deployed to Belarus, as part of previously unscheduled ‘military exercises.’ However, Russian equipment has been spotted along the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, far from the announced zone of the ‘exercise’ area.
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