The US Department of State has ordered the families of US Embassy personnel in Ukraine to voluntarily leave the country amid the potential threat of an impending Russian invasion. This information was provided by the US Embassy in Ukraine shortly after midnight on 24 January. The news comes after a series of difficult negotiations between the Russian Federation and the United States and the meeting of the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week.
The embassy in Kyiv also updated its travel advisory page noting: “Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19.” With a notification that:
“On January 23, 2022, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees (USDH) and ordered the departure of eligible family members (EFM) from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options.”
In this difficult time, Moscow seeks to continue its pressure on the government in Kyiv in order to force concessions on the West. Despite continuous threats of retaliatory sanctions in the event of an invasion, Vladimir Putin has not halted the deployment of troops to Ukraine’s borders and into Belarus. Talks at various levels continue and there is hope that a diplomatic solution and climb down may still occur.
The US Embassy in Kyiv released a further statement shortly after 2AM local time on 24 January, stating:
“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 embassy accompanied the statement with a series of tweets from its official account confirming that the embassy itself in Kyiv remains open and the departure of some personnel will not impact efforts to reach a diplomatic resolution to the situation.
The latest emergency deliveries of equipment to the Ukrainian army suggest that the situation is desperate. The ordered evacuation of the staff and families of embassy workers by the State Department seems to confirm Washington’s rapidly growing concerns over the situation in Ukraine.
Update: 11:00, 24 Jan. 2022:
The UK’s Foreign Office has also issued a statement confirming the withdrawal of some British staff and their families from Ukraine. The embassy in Kyiv will remain open.
Header: File photo US Embassy to Ukraine in Kyiv