West News Wire: Family members of federal officials at the US embassy in Kyiv have been asked to evacuate amid rising worries that Russia may invade Ukraine.
The State Department also granted permission for some diplomatic personnel to leave Ukraine.
According to a transcript of the call, a senior State Department official told reporters, “We are continuing to pursue the path of diplomacy, but if Russia chooses further escalation, then security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders in Russia occupied Crimea, in Russia controlled eastern Ukraine can deteriorate with little notice.”
“I just want to be clear that these are prudent safeguards that in no way diminish our support for or commitment to Ukraine,” the diplomat later clarified.
The US and its allies have increasingly warned over the last few weeks that Russia could invade the neighboring country after amassing 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s border.
The United Kingdom’s foreign office said in a statement on Saturday that they had information indicating Russia was “looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine”.
The foreign office said that Ukrainian MP Yevheniy Murayev was a possible candidate. The Russian foreign ministry dismissed the UK statement as “nonsense”
The US and EU have called for Russia to de-escalate tensions by drawing down its troops on the Ukrainian border.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, a day after warning of “massive consequences” in the event of any Russian military incursion into Ukraine.
Russia began building up more troops at the Ukrainian border in November after a similar move in March 2021.
In December, Russia sent a list of demands to the US and its allies, including that the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, NATO, not expand to Ukraine or any other former Soviet countries, something dismissed by the US as a nonstarter.