UK begins evacuation of diplomats from Ukraine
Britain has ordered the withdrawal of staff from its embassy in Kiev “in response to growing threat” from Moscow, as tensions on the Ukrainian-Russian border continue to remain high amid Western fears that the Kremlin is planning an invasion.
In an update published on the website of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), it was revealed that London has opted to “temporarily” withdraw some staff and their dependants from Kiev, noting that the embassy would remain open and continue providing assistance to British nationals in Ukraine.
UK passport holders have also been told to register their presence in the country.
The announcement follows a similar move by the US Embassy in Kiev, which announced late on Sunday that it had made the decision to authorize the departure of its staff in Ukraine “out of an abundance of caution due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens.”
The decision comes as tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at an all-time high, and Moscow stands accused of stationing more than 100,000 troops near the border in preparation for an invasion.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied having any plan for a military incursion, and has called such accusations “groundless and wrong.” Last week, the US State Department suggested Russia could attack “at any point.”
Britain’s decision to remove diplomats comes just two days after London declassified intelligence claiming that Moscow is seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kiev. A statement, published by the FCDO, suggested that Ukrainian MP Evgeniy Murayev is the chosen alternative to Ukraine’s current president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
On Monday morning, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Twitter that Kiev “respects the right of foreign nations to ensure the safety” of their diplomatic missions, but called the step “premature” and “an instance of excessive caution.” Ukraine has repeatedly played down the risk of a Russian invasion.