EU not closing diplomatic missions in Kyiv amid threat of Russian invasion
The Council of the European Union said on Saturday that “diplomatic missions are not closing” in Kyiv, Ukraine, despite what U.S. officials signal is an increasingly likely possibility that Russia will invade the neighboring country.
“The EU and its member states are coordinating their actions in view of the current threats on Ukraine,” the council said in a statement. “Our diplomatic missions are not closing. They remain in Kyiv and continue to operate in support to EU citizens and in cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities. Staff presence and travel advice to EU citizens are being adjusted as necessary to take into account security circumstances.”
“We reaffirm our continued support to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and diplomatic efforts towards de-escalation. We recall that any further military aggression against Ukraine will have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” the statement continued.
The development comes as the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Saturday morning saying that it had ordered most U.S. direct hire staff from the American Embassy in Kyiv to evacuate. A senior State Department official said on Saturday that some employees would remain in Kyiv, while others would move to Lviv, located in the western part of Ukraine.
The German Foreign Office also announced on Saturday that it would be reducing its diplomatic presence in the Ukrainian capital.
“We will keep our embassy in #Kiew open but reduce our diplomatic staff. Our Consulate General Donetsk, based in Dnipro since 2014, is temporarily being relocated to Lviv,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.
More than 100,000 Russian troops have been amassed near the Ukrainian border as the international community is concerned that Russia is preparing to invade Ukraine. U.S. officials have suggested that an invasion is increasingly likely from Russia and that it could happen “any day now,” according to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
“When I appeared on the Sunday shows last weekend, I made the point that we were in the window, that Russian military action could begin any day now. And that remains true. It could begin any day now. And it could occur before the Olympics have ended,” Sullivan told reporters during a White House press briefing on Friday.
“We are not saying that a decision has been taken — a final decision has been taken by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin,” he later added. “What we are saying is that we have a sufficient level of concern, based on what we are seeing on the ground and what our intelligence analysts have picked up, that we are sending this clear message. And it remains a message that we have now been sending for some time.”