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Leave Ukraine now, US tells families of diplomats as Russia tensions boil

“Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the US Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to US citizens in departing Ukraine,” a senior State Department official told reporters in a call late Sunday.

Published: Updated:

The US State Department has ordered the families of US diplomats in Ukraine to leave the country on Sunday while urging US citizens to leave as soon as possible due to “increased threats of Russian military action.”

Tensions have been boiling over the US belief that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is preparing to invade neighboring Ukraine. Despite his claims to the contrary, intelligence reports suggest Putin could order military action at any time.

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“On January 23, 2022, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of US direct hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action,” a memo from the State Department read.

Later in the day, a senior State Department official doubled down on the warning to US citizens.

“Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the US Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to US citizens in departing Ukraine,” the official told reporters in a call.

The US would not be in a position to evacuate citizens in such a contingency, added the official who was speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nevertheless, a second US official said that the US was hoping diplomatic efforts could prevent any military aggression on the part of Russia.

This official admitted that the US still did not know if Putin had made up his mind to invade Ukraine. “None of us know what President Putin will decide.”

Read more: US warns Belarus over role in aiding potential Russia invasion of Ukraine

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