The United States has ordered family members of government employees at the country’s embassy in Kyiv to leave amid growing fears that Russia could invade Ukraine.
The State Department has also authorized the departure of certain embassy employees who wish to leave Ukraine.
“We continue to follow the path of diplomacy, but if Russia chooses further escalation, then the security situation, especially along Ukraine’s borders in Russian-occupied Crimea in eastern Russian-controlled Ukraine…may deteriorate without notice,” a senior State Department official told reporters, according to a transcript of the call.
“I just want to make it clear that these are prudent precautions that in no way compromise our support or commitment to Ukraine,” the official added later.
The United States and its allies have increasingly warned in recent weeks that Russia could invade the neighboring country after amassing 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.
The UK Foreign Office said in a statement on Saturday that it had information indicating that Russia was “seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considered invading and occupying the ‘Ukraine”.
The Foreign Ministry said Ukrainian MP Yevheniy Murayev was a possible candidate. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the British statement “nonsense”.
The United States and the EU have called on Russia to defuse tensions by bringing its troops back to the Ukrainian border.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, the day after a warning “massive consequences” in case of Russian military intervention incursion into Ukraine.
Russia began to reinforce its troops on the Ukrainian border in November after a similar move in March 2021.
In December, Russia sent a list of demands to the United States and its allies, including that the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance, NATO, not expand to Ukraine or any other former Soviet country, which the United States dismissed as a non-starter.
Lavrov said on Friday that the United States would provide a written response to the Kremlin’s requests this week. Blinken stressed that the response would include the “many” concerns of the US government.
Blinken said he expects the two sides “to meet again after Russia has had a chance to review this document, and then we’ll see where we go from there.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2014 and annexed the Crimean peninsula, in a move that was widely condemned as illegal by the international community.
Thousands of people have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces since the invasion.