Amid tensions between Russia and the West over European security and concerns over a possible invasion by Moscow of Ukraine the US and UK governments made announcements on withdrawal of their citizens from Ukraine. The Israeli government said it is preparing for the possibility that thousands of Ukrainian Jews will want to immigrate to Israel in the event of a Russian invasion of the country. As for the EU, it does not intend to organize the evacuation of its diplomats or their families from Ukraine.
The U.S. Department of State on January 24 authorized the voluntary departure ("authorized departure") of U.S. government employees and ordered the departure of family members ("ordered departure") of U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, effective immediately.
A respective statement has been published on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. According to the statement, authorized departure gives these employees the option to depart if they wish; their departure is not required. Ordered departure for family members requires that family members leave the country. The U.S. Embassy's departure status will be reviewed in no later than 30 days.
"The Department of State made the decision to authorize departure from Mission Ukraine out of an abundance of caution due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine. We have been in consultation with the Ukrainian government about this step and are coordinating with Allied and partner embassies in Kyiv as they determine their posture," the statement said.
The United States stresses that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv remains open for regular operations. "Similarly, we stress that the authorized/ordered departure decision will in no way impact our commitment to finding a diplomatic solution to Russia's deeply troubling build-up of forces in and around Ukraine," the embassy added.
Following that, a special statement has been posted at UK government's website, pursuant to which the United Kingdom is withdrawing some embassy staff and their family members from Ukraine.
"Some Embassy staff and dependants are being withdrawn from Kyiv in response to growing threat from Russia. The British Embassy remains open and will continue to carry out essential work," the statement said.
The UK government also advised against non-essential travel to Ukraine.
"The situation in Kyiv and other areas outside Donetsk and Luhansk is generally calm. However, events in Ukraine are fast moving. There is continuing uncertainty about Russian intentions," the statement said.
As reported by Times of Israel, the Israeli government is preparing for the possibility that thousands of Ukrainian Jews will want to immigrate to Israel in the event of a Russian invasion of the country.
According to Haaretz, representatives of various government offices and groups met on Sunday to discuss such an eventuality, among them the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Minister, Defense Ministry, Diaspora Affairs Ministry and the Jewish Agency.
The report said some 75,000 people living in eastern Ukraine are believed eligible for Israeli citizenship.
The decision of the EU that it does not intend to organize the evacuation of its diplomats or their families from Ukraine has been claimed by EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
Borrell was asked whether the EU intends to start evacuating the families of its diplomats from Ukraine, following the example of the United States, and whether this does not mean that the war is imminent.
"Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken will explain to us the reasons for this announcement. We are not going to do the same thing, because we don't know any specific reasons. But Secretary Blinken will inform us, and I don't think we have to dramatize as far as negotiations are going on, and they are going on. I don't think we have to leave Ukraine. But maybe, Secretary Blinken has more information that he will share with us," he said.
Borrell also denied any EU plans to evacuate their diplomats from Ukraine.
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