Host of countries issue travel warnings about Ukraine amid rising tensions

US Embassy orders non-emergency staff to leave due to 'continued reports of Russian military build-up on the border'.

Host of countries issue travel warnings about Ukraine amid rising tensions

Several countries such as the US and the EU bloc have urged their non-essential staff to leave Ukraine amid heightened fears of possible Russian aggression against Ukraine

The US Embassy in Kyiv issued a travel advisory Saturday that said not to “travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart immediately via commercial or private means."

The State Department "ordered non-emergency US employees at the Embassy to depart due to continued reports of a Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, indicating potential for significant military action."

"Despite the reduction in diplomatic staff, the core embassy team, our dedicated Ukrainian colleagues, and the State Department and US personnel around the world will continue relentless diplomatic and assistance efforts in support of Ukraine’s security, democracy, and prosperity," it said.

Also, the agency "will suspend consular services at the US Embassy in Kyiv" beginning Sunday, according to the travel advisory.

The US warned on Friday that Russia could invade Ukraine "at any time."

Separately, the EU's lead spokesperson for external affairs Peter Stano told reporters Saturday that the bloc urged "its non-essential staff in Ukraine on Friday to leave the country."

According to a EURACTIV report Saturday, Stano said: "We are not evacuating. For the time being, the non-essential staff has been given the opportunity to telework from outside the country."

"We continue to assess the situation as it develops in line with the duty of care we have towards our staff and in close consultation and coordination with the EU member states,” he added.

Stano's remarks came after several EU states, including the Netherlands, Italy and Estonia urged their nationals to leave Ukraine.

The Italian Foreign Ministry's Crisis Unit on Saturday updated its travel advisory on Ukraine.

It called on its citizens to temporarily leave via proper travel means after considering the latest developments while stressing not to travel to Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea.

On Twitter, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the security situation has deteriorated further.

"That is why we call on Dutch people to leave the country as soon as possible and not to travel to Ukraine again," Hoekstra said, adding that there is "a red travel advice for all of Ukraine."

Germany's Foreign Ministry urged its citizens to leave soon if their presence is not necessary.

Berlin also said it is closing its consulate in Donetsk.

A travel and security advisory was issued by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday that said Turkiye has closely been monitoring the security situation.

The advisory called on Turkish citizens to refrain from traveling to Ukraine's eastern regions if not necessary, adding that they should take necessary precautions for their own personal safety and contact the Kyiv Embassy before traveling to Ukraine.

Late Friday, Canada was among countries urging its nationals to leave immediately due to “ongoing Russian threats and the risk of armed conflict.”

“As we continue to work closely with our partners and monitor the situation, I urge all Canadians in Ukraine to make the necessary arrangements to leave the country now,” Foreign Minister Melanie Joy said in a statement.

British citizens were advised not to travel to Ukraine and those who are in the country should leave, according to a Foreign Office travel advice update on Friday.

“British nationals in Ukraine should leave now while commercial means are still available,” said the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Israel advised its citizens to avoid travel and decided to withdraw diplomatic staff and families, according to a statement by its Foreign Ministry.

Additionally, several Arab states, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, advised their nationals against travel as tension continues to escalate.

South Korea also asked its citizens not to travel to Ukraine and urged those already there to leave, according to Newsweek.com.

Ukraine-Russia crisis

Ukraine has been plagued by conflict in its eastern regions since March 2014 following Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.

Moscow recently amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against its ex-Soviet neighbor.

Russia has denied it is preparing to invade and accused Western countries of undermining its security by NATO’s expansion toward its borders.

The Kremlin also issued a list of security demands to the West, including a rollback of troop deployments from some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia would not join NATO.

Hüseyin Demir

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