US evacuates diplomats' families from Ukraine

The State Department has authorized the departure of all U.S. diplomats' family members from Ukraine, according to the latest travel warning for the crisis-riven country.

The travel warning updates a previous alert from earlier in the week by warning American citizens to  “defer all non-essential travel to Ukraine due to the ongoing political unrest and violent clashes between police and protesters.” The alert also warns Americans in the country that U.S. consular services may not be able to help them because of the turmoil rocking the former Soviet republic.

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“On February 20, 2014, the Department of State authorized the departure of all family members of U.S. government personnel from Ukraine,” the alert states. “While the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv’s Consular Section is open for public services, the Embassy’s ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine is limited.”

The alert comes as President Obama has warned President Viktor Yanukovych that the White House is weighing targeted sanctions against Ukrainian officials because of the deadly violence. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to consider visa bans and asset freezes when Congress reconvenes next week.

Yanukovych bowed to pressure from the west on Thursday and said he was open to holding new elections to help restore peace. And the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution calling for police forces to halt their crackdown on pro-European protesters and stop using live ammunition against them.

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