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The State Department will trim its personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, starting with ordering family members of American workers. In addition, all non-essential embassy staff members were advised to leave the country. These directives were issued on Sunday in response to U.S. and European allies’ increasing concerns over the growing threat of a Russian invasion.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is watching the Russians’ movement closely. More Embassy personnel will be evacuated when necessary, he explained. Blinken says he has no greater “responsibility than the safety and well-being of the folks who work for the State Department and who are under my care, in a sense. So we’re tracking this very, very closely. We’re looking at it on really a daily basis,” according to The Hill.
Despite Moscow’s continued claim that it is not planning to attack Ukraine, the Russian military appears poised to invade. By mid-December, an estimated 265,000 Russian troops are readying for war, according to Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense Council Pleksiy Danilov.
At the time, satellite images showed Russian military amassing to the north, east, and south of Ukraine’s border.
Russian officials insist that Moscow’s military buildup is a reaction to Ukraine’s intensifying ties with the alliance, which remains unnamed. Reportedly, the Ukrainian military has approximately 255,000 to 285,000 personnel; nearly equal to the estimated number of Russian troops at its border.
U.S. officials issued a Level 4: Travel Advisory on Sunday, Jan. 23, 2021, for Ukraine, Crimea, Donetsk Oblast, and Luhansk Oblast. The State Department reports security conditions are unpredictable and can deteriorate without notice, particularly in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine and the Russia-occupied Crimea peninsula.
Due to ongoing armed conflicts and U.S. citizens being threatened, detained, injured, and more, Americans should heed the department’s advisory. Unfortunately, the government cannot provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in Crimea and can offer only limited services in the Oblasts.
President Joe Biden is moving beyond a restrained stance on the Russian-Ukraine situation after talks between the U.S. and President Vladimir Putin failed to halt his threatening conduct toward Ukraine. After a briefing between Biden and senior Pentagon officials, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III put 8,500 U.S. troops on high alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe, said John F. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson during a news conference on Monday.
“It’s very clear the Russians have no intention right now of de-escalating,” Kirby added.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
The New York Times: Pentagon Puts 8,500 Troops on ‘High Alert’ Amid Ukraine Tensions; by Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt
CNBC: U.S. draws down Ukraine embassy presence as war fears mount
The Hill: Blinken: State Dept tracking US Embassy personnel in Kyiv ‘very, very closely;’ by Mychael Schnell
Travel.State.Gov: International: Ukraine – Level 4: Do Not Travel
CNN: State Department reduces staff at US embassy in Ukraine, orders some family members to leave; by Natasha Bertrand, Kylie Atwood, and Jeremy Herb
Featured and Top Image by Ron Przysucha Courtesy of GPA Photo Archive’s Flickr Page – Public Domain License
First Inset Image Courtesy of U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inset Image by LCPL Andrew Williams, USMC for The United States Marine Corps Courtesy of The U.S. National Archives – Creative Commons License