US orders departure of family members of Ukrainian embassy staff By Reuters

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US orders departure of family members of Ukrainian embassy staff
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view shows the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

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By David Shepardson and Costas Pitas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Sunday ordered the departure of family members of its embassy staff in Ukraine, citing the continued threat of military action by Russia.

The US State Department also authorized the voluntary departure of US government employees and said Americans should consider leaving immediately.

“We have been in consultation with the Ukrainian government about this step and are coordinating with allied and partner embassies in Kyiv as they determine their position,” the US Embassy said.

Russia has massed troops near the border with Ukraine, causing tensions with Western powers. Moscow insisted it had no intention of invading.

The United States Embassy in Kyiv warned in a statement that "military action by Russia could occur at any time and the United States government will not be able to evacuate American citizens in such a eventuality, so U.S. citizens currently in Ukraine should plan accordingly.” . »

The State Department also said it allowed the "voluntary departure of direct U.S. employees."

The New York Times reported late Sunday that President Joe Biden is considering deploying several thousand American troops to NATO allies in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the New York Times report, but noted that Pentagon spokesman John Kirby (NYSE ? said on Friday, "we're going to make sure we have options ready to reassure our allies, in especially on — on NATO East Flank.”

"If there's another incursion and if they need that assurance, if they need the capacity built, we're going to do that and we're going to make sure that we're — that we're ready to do that. “said Kirby.

U.S. and Russian diplomats made no major breakthroughs during Friday's talks.

On Sunday, Britain accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kiev.

The State Department also issued its advisory to Russia on Sunday night warning Americans not to travel, citing "ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine." He also added "given the current volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly discouraged from traveling by land from Russia to Ukraine via this region."

State Department officials declined to say how many Americans are currently in Ukraine.

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine said the decision was made "out of an abundance of caution due to Russia's continued efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the safety of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine." ".

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv continues to operate and its Chargé d'Affaires Kristina Kvien remains in Ukraine, State Department officials said.

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