US evacuating Ukraine embassy staff out of country
The US is again evacuating its Ukraine embassy staff, this time moving them across the border to Poland, over concerns that Russia will launch an attack on Kiev.
“Today the Department of State is again taking action for the safety and security of US citizens, including our personnel,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Monday, as he announced that US officials who had been moved to Lviv last week would spend the following night in Poland.
“Our colleagues who recently relocated to Lviv will spend the night in Poland. They will regularly return to continue their diplomatic work in Ukraine and provide emergency consular services,” Blinken declared.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirms US diplomatic staff in Ukraine spending tonight in Poland'For security reasons, Department of State personnel currently in Lviv will spend the night in Poland.' pic.twitter.com/r6Dj3IXdFO— Rob Crilly (@robcrilly) February 22, 2022
Referring to the move as a “prudent precaution,” Blinken insisted that Washington was not abandoning the government in Kiev. “The fact that we are taking prudent precautions for the sake of the safety of US government personnel and US citizens, as we do regularly worldwide, in no way undermines our support for, or our commitment to, Ukraine.”
The latest move comes one week after Washington relocated its embassy operations to Lviv from Kiev, citing an alleged buildup of Russian forces near Ukraine’s borders.
US officials earlier this month urged American citizens in Ukraine to leave the country, saying they would be allowed to cross into Poland by land without advanced approval from Warsaw.
Last week’s embassy evacuation from Kiev reportedly included destruction of the facility’s computer systems and communications gear for fear that the equipment could fall into the hands of Russian forces. Lviv is in western Ukraine, further away than Kiev from the country’s borders with Russia and Belarus.
War fears escalated on Monday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Moscow would immediately recognize the breakaway Donbass republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) as sovereign nations. DPR and LPR declared independence from Kiev in 2014, after US-backed nationalists overthrew Ukraine’s elected government. Putin, who said Kiev wants to “start a Blitzkrieg” in the Donbass, also ordered the Russian military to send peacekeepers into the newly recognized republics.