The U.S. was evacuating State Department personnel from Ukraine due to security concerns on Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two breakaway “republics” in the country’s east.
Driving the news: The U.S. last week moved embassy operations from Kyiv to Lviv, western Ukraine. Blinken said he was “again taking action for the safety and security of U.S. citizens, including our personnel.” “For security reasons, Department of State personnel currently in Lviv will spend the night in Poland,” he added in his statement.
- Putin’s actions Monday, including ordering Russian troops to conduct operations in the occupied Ukrainian territories, marked “a major escalation” in the crisis and “another indication that Russia is seeking war, not diplomacy,” a State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
- The U.S. and its allies were “committed to finding a diplomatic resolution” in the coming hours, however, “diplomacy cannot succeed unless Russia changes course,” the spokesperson added — as the UN Security Council prepared to hold an emergency meeting on the matter.
What he’s saying: “Our personnel will regularly return to continue their diplomatic work in Ukraine and provide emergency consular services. They will continue to support the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian government, coordinating on diplomatic efforts,” Blinken continued.
- He urged U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine “immediately” as the security situation “continues to be unpredictable throughout the country and may deteriorate with little notice.”
- “There is a strong likelihood that any Russian military operations would severely restrict commercial air travel,” Blinken added. “Russian troops have continued to move closer to the border in what looks like plans for an invasion at any moment.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with comment from Blinken and a State Department spokesperson.