US State Department urges citizens to leave Ukraine amid invasion threat

US State Department urges citizens to leave Ukraine amid invasion threat

Feb 11, 2022: The US State Department is urging Americans in Ukraine to leave the country immediately, citing the threat of a Russian invasion amid the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe.

In a travel advisory updated Thursday, the US urged its citizens living in Ukraine to “exercise caution because of possible military action if Russia takes military action.”

The advisory warned citizens against visiting the country, saying, “Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart now via commercial or private means,”

“Military action may commence at any time and without warning and would also severely impact the US Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to US citizens in departing Ukraine,” it said.

President Joe Biden also suggested that US citizens in Ukraine should not stay in the country.

“I think it’d be wise to leave the country. I’m not talking about our diplomatic corps; I’m talking about Americans who are there,” he said. “I’d hate to see them get caught in a crossfire if in fact they did invade. And there’s no need for that. If I had anyone there, I’d say leave.”

Whereas, Washington last month had already warned US embassy staff and families to leave Kyiv. Anticipating a military incursion by Russia in to non NATO member Ukraine, the US military has been building a troop deployment across Eastern Europe in what it called a signal of Washington’s commitment to the security of NATO members in the region.

There are four levels of US travel warnings, the lowest of which is “exercise normal precautions.” Ukraine is already at the highest “do not travel” level due to tensions with COVID-19 and Russia. But for Americans already in Ukraine, the previous advisory said they should consider leaving the country. The new guidelines also warn Americans that in the event of a Russian military operation anywhere in Ukraine, “the US government will not be able to get them out.”

Russia’s military is gathering troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, creating a diplomatic crisis and raising fears in the United States and Europe that Russia is preparing to attack its neighbor. Russia has denied plotting to invade Ukraine, but has strongly opposed its neighbor’s efforts to join NATO.

Moscow wants security guarantees that the US-led coalition would halt its expansion into the former Soviet republic, but Washington and NATO have rejected the demand as “non-starter” and said they would seek arms control in Europe.

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