US closes embassy in Kyiv and moves remaining diplomats west amid fears of Russian invasion
“I ordered these actions for one reason – the safety of our personnel – and we strongly urge all US citizens remaining in Ukraine to leave the country immediately,” Blinken said in a statement.
“These careful precautions in no way compromise our support or commitment to Ukraine. Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” he said. “We also continue our sincere efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, and we remain engaged with the Russian government following President Biden’s call with President Putin and my discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov.”
“The path of diplomacy remains available should Russia choose to engage in good faith. We look forward to returning our staff to the Embassy as soon as conditions permit,” Blinken added.
US officials have repeatedly called on US citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, warning that a Russian invasion could come anytime, including as early as this week.
“What we are trying to do publicly is make it clear to American citizens that they must leave Ukraine immediately, as there will be no military evacuation in the event of an invasion,” the adviser said. to National Security Jake Sullivan on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ” Sunday.
“And we are trying to tell the Ukrainians to prepare and be ready for that as well, and to coordinate with our NATO allies and partners, so that we are able to defend NATO territory and to deter further Russian aggression if they move towards Ukraine,” he added.
In a briefing with reporters on Saturday, a senior State Department official said they had “planned to try to maintain essential functions of our embassy for as long as possible with a reduced number of people.” The official said US diplomats had been disposing of classified information in recent days in preparation for the embassy’s withdrawal.
Concern for the safety of US diplomats has grown in recent days, especially as Biden administration officials have said Russia may begin its invasion with aerial bombardments and missiles, which could kill civilians without discrimination. Kyiv is also just two hours from the Ukraine-Belarus border, where Russia has continued to build up its military presence.