As war fears mount, the US has pulled down Ukraine's embassy presence

WASHINGTON (AP), The State Department ordered Sunday that all American families living at the U.S. Embassy, Ukraine were evacuated amid increased Russian intrusion fears.

As war fears mount, the US has pulled down Ukraine's embassy presence

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv informed the dependents that they had to leave the country. The department also stated that non-essential staff at embassy could leave Ukraine on government expense.

This was in the midst of rising tensions over Russia's military buildup at Ukraine's border. These tensions were not eased during Friday talks between Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Geneva.

Officials from the State Department stressed that the Kyiv Embassy will continue to be open and that the announcement doesn't constitute an evacuation. Officials stated that the move was under consideration for some time. It does not indicate an easing in U.S. support to Ukraine.

The State Department stated that recent reports suggested Russia was considering a major military attack against Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry however has accused NATO countries, citing disinformation, of increasing tensions in Ukraine.

The State Department stated that security conditions in Ukraine, especially along its borders in Russia-occupied Crimea and Russia-controlled east Ukraine are unpredictable and could change quickly. Demonstrations that have sometimes turned violent are common in Ukraine, including Kyiv.

The travel advisory issued by the department, which warned against travelling to Ukraine due to COVID-19 and tensions over Russia, was modified Sunday to include a stronger warning.

Due to increased Russian military action and COVID-19, do not travel to Ukraine. Due to the increased risk of crime and civil unrest in Ukraine, you should exercise greater caution. The department warned that certain areas are at greater risk.

The Russian travel advisory was also updated: "Do NOT travel to Russia because of ongoing tensions along the border with Ukraine and the potential for harassment towards U.S citizens, the limited ability of the embassy to assist U.S citizens in Russia, COVID-19, related entry restrictions, terrorist, harassment by Russian government officials and the arbitrarily enforced local law."

The State Department wouldn't say how many Americans are currently living in Ukraine. U.S. citizens do not need to register at embassies when arriving in Ukraine or planning to stay for extended periods.

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