The US State Department has instructed the families of diplomats and non-essential staff at the American embassy in Ukraine to begin leaving the country in the coming days amid concerns of a possible Russian attack, according to a report Saturday.
US evacuations are likely to start “as early as next week”, the US cable news network said, citing a source close to the Ukrainian government. It marks the embassy’s shift in focus towards “helping Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression”.
The embassy in Kyiv also said on Twitter that the first batch of fresh US assistance had arrived in Ukraine, which includes weaponry described as “200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition for the frontline defenders of Ukraine”.
Citing unnamed US officials, Fox News said relatives of embassy personnel were told to start evacuating as early as Monday.
An official also said that next week the State Department was expected to urge Americans to start departing Ukraine on commercial flights “while those are still available.”
A State Department spokesperson said the United States is not “at this time” organizing an evacuation of American citizens from Ukraine despite rising fears of an unspecified military action by Russia.
In the event matters deteriorate, however, “American citizens should not anticipate that there will be US government-sponsored evacuations,” the spokesperson said, speaking on grounds of anonymity.
“Currently, commercial flights are available to support departures.”
The State Department had already advised US citizens not to travel to Ukraine due to concerns about COVID-19. A department website also urges them “to reconsider travel due to increased threats from Russia.”
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