U.S. orders families of Ukraine embassy staff to leave country

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The United States on Sunday said it was ordering the departure of eligible family members of staff from its embassy in Ukraine and that all citizens should consider leaving due to the threat of military action from Russia.

U.S. and Russian diplomats made no major breakthrough at talks on Friday and Moscow has been massing troops on the border with its neighbour.

On Sunday, Britain accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv.

The State Department said it was authorizing the “voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action.”

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“U.S. citizens in Ukraine should consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options,” it added.

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“There are reports Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine,” the State Department said in a statement.

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It said the security conditions in the country are unpredictable and could “deteriorate with little notice.”

The U.S. also reiterated a “Do Not Travel” warning for the country, which had previously been in place due to COVID-19.

The State Department warned in a press briefing that the government would not be in a position to evacuate citizens should Russian military action come.

Instead, it encourages citizens to use commercial or private transportation means and felt now was the right time to order and recommend leaving.

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The embassy said it will remain open, though, and the departures will not impact a commitment to finding a diplomatic solution.

— with files from Global News’ Eric Stober

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