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Breaking: Russia/Ukraine Tensions: US orders embassy staff to leave

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The United States on Saturday ordered all non-emergency Kyiv embassy staff to leave because of the threat of Russia invading Ukraine.

The advisory also repeated an earlier call by US president Joe Biden for Americans to leave the country immediately.

The State Department has “ordered the departure of most US direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action,” it said in the updated travel advisory.

“The Department of State will suspend consular services at the US Embassy in Kyiv,” it said, adding that a small consular presence would be maintained in Lviv in western Ukraine to handle emergencies.

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Washington has stressed that it will not be sending US troops to Ukraine in case of a Russian attack, meaning that it would not be able to arrange evacuation plans for its citizens should war break out.

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Earlier on Saturday, Russia said it was also starting to pull some embassy staff out of Ukraine, citing fears of “possible provocations from the Kyiv regime”.

The full text reads:

Ukraine – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and Covid-19; those in Ukraine should depart immediately via commercial or private means. If remaining in Ukraine, exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and potential combat operations should Russia take military action. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

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On February 12, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of most US direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. US citizens should not travel to Ukraine, and those in Ukraine should depart immediately using commercial or other privately available transportation options. The Department previously authorized the voluntary departure of US direct hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members on January 23, 2022.

As of Sunday, February 13, 2022, the Department of State will suspend consular services at the US Embassy in Kyiv. The Embassy will maintain a small consular presence in Lviv, Ukraine to handle emergencies, but will not be able to provide passport, visa or routine consular services. US citizens may seek these services at U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries. US citizens seeking emergency assistance in Ukraine should complete this online form and the State Department will respond.

US citizens who decide to remain in Ukraine and who do not depart immediately as advised, should also complete this online form so that we may better communicate with you.

There are continued reports of a Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, indicating potential for significant military action against Ukraine. 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. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.

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US citizens in Ukraine should be aware that the US government will not be able to evacuate US citizens in the event of Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine. Military action may commence at any time and without warning and would also severely impact the US Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to US citizens in departing Ukraine. For more information, please review what the US government can and cannot do to assist you in a crisis overseas.

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