US issues travel advisory for Embassy staff in Ukraine, asks American citizens to leave the country

Washington: The United States updated its travel advisory for Ukraine urging American citizens to leave the country and authorizing the departure of some embassy employees. This advisory said that Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine, said an report.

This has come as several countries, led by the US, have reportedly accused Russia of amassing troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for an invasion. Moscow, however, said that it has no intention of invading Ukraine while stressing that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.

In an advisory on Sunday, the State Department said, “On January 23, 2022, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of US direct-hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. US citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options.”

It further said, “The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine`s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

The State Department said that US citizens in Ukraine should be aware that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the US Embassy`s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to US citizens in departing Ukraine.

It has urged American citizens not to take trips to the country amid “tension” along the border with Ukraine, adding “Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.”

Kremlin planning to install pro-Russian leader in Ukraine: UK

Earlier on Saturday, the UK foreign office said that it has information that Kremlin is planning to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine. They said that the Russian government is planning to “install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine,” said a CNN report. “The former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev is being considered as a potential candidate,” the British Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is quoted as saying by CNN report.

Murayev told CNN, “there is nothing to comment on” regarding the allegations, as he is a Ukrainian national and still facing Russian sanctions. The UK foreign office went on to name four other former Ukrainian officials, saying, “We have information that the Russian intelligence services maintain links with numerous former Ukrainian politicians” including Serhiy Arbuzov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2012 to 2014, and acting Prime Minister in 2014; Andriy Kluyev, First Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2012 and Chief of Staff to former Ukrainian President Yanukovich, Vladimir Sivkovich, former Deputy Head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (RNBO); Mykola Azarov, Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2010-2014.”

“Some of these have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine,” the British foreign office statement added.

Early on Sunday, Russias foreign ministry urged the UKs foreign office to “stop engaging in provocations,” state news agency TASS reported.

“The misinformation spread by the British Foreign Office is another evidence that these are the NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, that are escalating tensions around Ukraine. We call on the British Foreign Office to stop provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense and focus on studying the history of the Tatar-Mongol yoke,” a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry told TASS.

According to CNN, NATO members Romania and Bulgaria slammed Russia`s demand to remove alliance troops from both countries as “unacceptable,” with each arguing that the Kremlin has no right to interfere in the foreign policy decisions of other sovereign states.

The comments from both countries reportedly came just hours after Russia`s Foreign Ministry confirmed its demand for NATO to pull back troops from parts of eastern Europe including Bulgaria and Romania. The two countries are located on the Black Sea, which analysts believe Moscow sees as an important geostrategic buffer zone between itself and Europe.

Russia and NATO have been at loggerheads since late last year when the Kremlin deployed an estimated 100,000 troops to its border with Ukraine. The military posturing has prompted fears that Russia is planning another incursion into Ukraine after invading and illegally annexing the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

The United States and its NATO allies have repeatedly warned Russia any movement of its troops into Ukrainian territory would be met with what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called “a severe and a united response.”

Diplomats from all sides have been attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement, though one of Russia`s core demands — that NATO withdraws foreign military forces and equipment from members of the alliance who joined after 1997 — was quickly deemed a non-starter by Western diplomats, reported CNN.

Although US President Joe Biden ruled out sending American combat troops to Ukraine, Washington has approved the shipment of US-origin weapons to Kyiv — including highly sought-after American anti-aircraft systems from Latvia and Lithuania.