The United Kingdom has begun to remove personnel from its mission in Ukraine, amid mounting concerns of a Russian invasion.
Officials said no explicit threats have been made against British diplomats, but around half of the personnel in Kyiv will return to the UK. The United States has urged family of its embassy workers to leave, warning that an invasion may occur “at any time” Despite Russia’s denials of military involvement, tens of thousands of troops have gathered on the border.
The embassy relocation were termed as cautious, and nothing specific is believed to have transpired in the previous 24 hours to have prompted the US and UK choices. EU personnel in Ukraine will remain in place for the time being, with EU foreign policy director Josep Borrell vowing not to “dramatize” the situation.
NATO members such as Denmark, Spain, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands are deploying more fighter planes and vessels to Eastern Europe to reinforce regional defenses. With an estimated 100,000 Russian troops stationed on Ukraine’s border, Nato’s secretary-general has warned that a new confrontation in Europe is possible.
The US also told non-essential personnel that they could leave Ukraine, emphasizing that their actions were not an evacuation. However, the State Department informed the AFP news agency that if Russia invaded, it would “not be in a position to evacuate US citizens”
Officials have also cautioned Americans not to visit to Ukraine or Russia because of the “potential for harassment”
Ukraine called the US move to withdraw families of personnel “premature” labeling it a “a display of excessive caution”
On Saturday, 90 tonnes of “lethal aid” from the United States landed in Ukraine, including ammunition for “front-line defenders”
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US was putting together a “series of actions that would figure into [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin’s calculus” including beefing up Ukraine’s defenses with more military help.
Russia previously grabbed Crimea in 2014, following violent anti-Russian riots in Ukraine that deposed the country’s pro-Russian president. Before Crimea voted to join Russia in a referendum that the West and Ukraine regarded unlawful, Russian military took control of the area.
In a battle that has cost an estimated 14,000 deaths, Russian-backed separatists hold portions of eastern Ukraine near Russia’s borders. A 2015 peace agreement is still far from being implemented.
On Sunday, the UK Foreign Office accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of plotting to install a pro-Moscow figure as Ukraine’s prime minister. Former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev, who was identified by the UK Foreign Office, termed the charges “stupid” in an interview with the Reuters news agency.
If there is an incursion, UK politicians have warned that the Russian government will face catastrophic repercussions.
Officials from the United States expressed worry that Russia would try to destabilize and depose Ukraine’s government, but they declined to comment on the UK charge.