Acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Kristina Kvien said in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday diplomats’ families at the embassy were evacuated out of an “abundance of caution.”
“The decision was made because right now Vladimir Putin and Russia have built up such military might on the border that they could take an action any day now,” Kvien said.
“And with that in mind, we felt that out of an abundance of caution, we had to make sure that our embassy families were safe. So that was the basis for a decision,” she added.
The State Department ordered the evacuation of diplomats’ families and authorized voluntary departures of employees on Sunday from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv due to tensions increasing with Russia.
Russia has thousands of troops at Ukraine’s border as negotiations continue with the U.S. and NATO to prevent an invasion.
Ukrainian officials have told citizens there is no reason to believe an attack is imminent.
However, the number of troops near Ukraine “means that Russia could do anything at any moment,” Kvien said.
“It’s like a gun to the head of Ukraine,” she said. “And we don’t think that Ukraine should have to live with a loaded gun to its head.”
Western countries have promised to impose harsh economic sanctions on Russia if it attacks Ukraine, but the U.S. said it will not be sending troops to the country.