- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 12, 2022

The State Department on Saturday ordered all non-emergency employees at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, to evacuate as the Biden administration warns that a Russian invasion of the country is increasingly imminent.
The order comes just hours before President Biden’s high-stakes phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Despite the reduction in diplomatic staff, the core embassy team, our dedicated Ukrainian colleagues, and @StateDept and U.S. personnel around the world will continue relentless diplomatic and assistance efforts in support of Ukraine’s security, democracy, and prosperity,” the State Department said in a tweet.
Consulate services at the embassy, including passport, visa, or routine service, will also be suspended, the State Department said in a follow-up advisory. A small “consular presence” in Lviv, Ukraine will be open to handle emergencies, the advisory said.
Lviv sits in western Ukraine near the Polish border and is further away from a potential Russian invasion.
The State Department had previously ordered the families of U.S. embassy staffers in Kyiv to leave but had left nonessential personnel to decide for themselves if they want to depart.

Russia also issued a statement on Saturday that it was pulling staff from its embassy in Kyiv, saying it fears “provocation.”

Also on Saturday, the State Department reissued its Level 4 travel advisory for Ukraine, telling Americans not to travel to the country.

The advisory warned that those remaining in Ukraine should “exercise increased caution” because of the potential for Russia to launch a military attack.

On Friday, U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan warned a Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin at any moment. He urged any Americans in Ukraine to depart the country immediately.
“The risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands,” he said. “If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any other opportunity to leave, and no prospect of a U.S. military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”

Mr. Sullivan emphasized that the Biden administration will not send U.S. troops into Ukraine to rescue Americans stranded in the country after an invasion.

The Biden administration has ratcheted up its warnings that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could come within days, but also stressed that they do not believe Mr. Putin has decided whether to attack. 

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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