US government cuts embassy staff in Ukraine

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A Ukrainian soldier patrols a street. © Andriy Andriyenko/AP/dpa

There has been speculation about this for days – now the US State Department is reacting and reducing its embassy staff in Kiev. It was just a “precautionary measure” – they continued to rely on diplomacy in the conflict.

The US State Department has ordered families of diplomats to evacuate the US Embassy in Kiev in response to the massive tensions in the Ukraine crisis.

At the same time, the U.S. government officials who are not directly needed to leave Ukraine have been approved because of the continued threat of Russian military action, the U.S. State Department said. This move had been speculated for a few days.

These are “precautionary measures,” said a senior ministry official. The ministry did not say how many staff in the US embassy will be affected by the changes. When asked why this decision was being made now of all times, the ministry referred to the warning from the White House last week that Russia could invade Ukraine at any time.

Diplomacy is still being pursued, but should Russia decide to escalate further, security conditions are unpredictable and could deteriorate in a short period of time, the official said. “We do not know if he has already decided to invade, but he is building the military capacity along the Ukrainian borders to have this option ready at any time,” she said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. government information

U.S. citizens who have been in Ukraine should consider using commercial or other privately available transportation options to leave the country now, it said. The ministry also made it clear that there would be no evacuation action in the event of an invasion of Russia. Therefore, US citizens should plan accordingly now. The measures would in no way affect US support or commitment to Ukraine.

On Saturday, the US State Department said that there was “nothing to announce” about the evacuation of families of embassy staff. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made no such announcement in interviews with US broadcasters. The United States in particular fears an invasion of the neighboring country given the high Russian troop presence on the border with Ukraine. Moscow rejects this almost every day.

The Federal Foreign Office said on Saturday that it would not reduce its embassy staff in Kiev. “We are very closely monitoring the security situation for the staff at our diplomatic missions in Ukraine, and we are also in close contact with our partners in the EU and at international level,” it said. dpa

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