The United States Department of State has ordered this Saturday the immediate evacuation of non-essential employees from its Embassy in Kiev, in view of the information handled by the intelligence services about an imminent Russian invasion and in full global tension due to the accumulation of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine. Washington already asked its citizens this Friday to leave Ukraine within a maximum period of 48 hours. The latest announcement has come a few hours before the president of the United States, Joe Biden, holds a telephone conversation with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the crisis. Putin is also expected to call French President Emmanuel Macron this Saturday, with whom he met this week in Moscow to try to reduce tension in a meeting that turned out to be unsuccessful.
The State Department has published a statement on its travel advisory page (under the title Nlevel 4: do not travel) in which he calls for “the departure of most US employees directly hired by the Kiev Embassy due to the continuing threat of Russian military action.” He also announces the suspension of consular services from this Sunday. “US citizens should not travel to Ukraine, and those there should depart immediately using commercial and private transportation.” Washington will maintain a small consular presence in Lviv, in western Ukraine, to deal with emergencies for US citizens. It will not, however, be able to issue passports or visas.
Spain, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, the Netherlands, Japan and South Korea have adopted similar decisions in recent hours, while Germany, which has adopted a decidedly lower tone these weeks than its allies, has urged its citizens to leave Ukraine if their stay in the country is not compulsory. His Minister of Foreign Affairs, Annalena Baerbock, assured this Saturday in Cairo that he will keep the Embassy in Kiev open. Also, that it will reduce the staff in the legation, as well as in other German organizations established in the country. Moscow, for its part, has reacted by withdrawing part of its diplomatic staff from the Ukrainian capital. With a brief statement, the Kremlin has announced that “it is optimizing” its workforce and that it “continues to work normally.”
In another attempt to stop the escalation of tension, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, spoke this Saturday with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, to pressure him to withdraw the land, sea and air forces deployed in three different points at the gates of Ukraine. Blinken, who has reaffirmed his suspicions of an imminent invasion, has opted for a diplomatic solution to one of the greatest threats that Europe has experienced since the end of the Cold War.
According to Moscow, the call was at the initiative of Washington and the head of Russian diplomacy once again stressed its demands: the end of NATO’s expansion to the East and the commitment that they will not deploy troops near its borders. Lavrov has further stated that the United States and its allies have launched “a propaganda campaign on Russian aggression against Ukraine that seeks provocative targets and encourages the Kiev authorities to sabotage the Minsk agreements and try to resolve them by force, and disastrously, the problem of Donbas”, a pro-Russian separatist region at war for eight years with the Ukrainian army. .
This Friday, the United States National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, insisted that it is not clear that the decision on the attack is made in Moscow, although he assured that the deployment of Russian forces has increased so much in recent days that “there are a very concrete possibility of action at any moment”, including “a quick assault” on Kiev.
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US intelligence had been handling the information that Putin would wait until the end of the Winter Olympics in Beijing (February 20), so as not to bother China, a crucial ally, but the continuous movements of troops have caused the latest change of mind . Sullivan appeared from the White House shortly after a teleconference organized by Biden with leaders of the European Union and NATO members, who expressed concern about the Russian military buildup and repeated messages from previous weeks. They are all for a “diplomatic solution”, and if it does not come, they are ready to impose severe sanctions on the Kremlin.
The United States has repeatedly ruled out sending troops to Ukraine, but has increased its presence in NATO member countries in Eastern Europe. The Pentagon ordered an additional 3,000 troops to Poland on Friday. Until the crisis began, the US Embassy in Kiev was the third largest diplomatic mission on European soil, staffing 181 employees from the State Department and more than a dozen agencies, as well as some 560 Ukrainian employees.
One of the main concerns of the West is the Russian deployment in Belarus. The Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, requested explanations from Minsk about the extensive military presence in their territory and if it should be notified under the provisions of the 2011 Vienna document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). ). According to the American Radio FreeEurope, Alexandr Lukashenko’s regime replied that it should not clarify anything because part of the deployed Russian troops are not participating in the exercises, but have been sent to reinforce the southern flank of Belarus. That is, the border with Ukraine.
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