UK pulls some embassy staff out Ukraine in response to ‘growing threat’ from Russia | EVENING STANDARD

100,000 Russian troops have amassed on the Ukraine border

The UK is withdrawing some staff and their families from the British embassy in Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion.

The Foreign Office said it was taking the action in response to a “growing threat from Russia”.

“Some embassy staff and dependants are being withdrawn from Kyiv in response to the growing threat from Russia,” it said on Monday.

“The British Embassy remains open and will continue to carry out essential work.”

British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons said: “We will be continuing with our work alongside Ukraine partners.”

The announcement comes hours after the US ordered the families of all its embassy staff to leave the country.

Non-essential US embassy staff have also been told they can leave and US citizens have been urged to do the same.

The move came amid rising tensions about Russia’s military build-up on the Ukraine border where around 100,000 troops have amassed.

Tensions have not eased following talks on Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

In a statement, the US embassy said: “Military action by Russia could come at any time” and said officials “will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency, so US citizens currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly”.

The State Department added: “The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv.”

Russia has denied having any plans for military action in Ukraine.

State Department officials said the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation.

The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of US support for Ukraine, officials stressed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has accused Nato countries of escalating tensions around Ukraine with disinformation.

The State Department’s announcement comes a day after the UK accused President Putin of plotting to install a pro-Moscow figure to lead Ukraine’s government.

The Foreign Office took the unusual step of naming former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev as a potential Kremlin candidate.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking.

“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy.”

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that the Foreign Office was “circulating disinformation” and urged it to “cease these provocative activities” and “stop spreading nonsense”.


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