US Embassy in Ukraine ‘requests evacuation of staff’ amid war fears | Ukraine

The US Embassy in Ukraine has requested the evacuation of all non-essential staff amid growing fears of an imminent Russian invasion and the overnight arrival of arms deliveries promised by President Joe Biden, according to a CNN report.

US evacuations are expected to begin “as early as next week”, the US cable news channel said, citing a source close to the Ukrainian government. This marks the embassy’s shift in focus to “helping Ukraine strengthen its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression.”

Embassy in Kyiv also said on Twitter that the first batch of fresh US aid had arrived in Ukraine, which includes weapons described as “200,000 pounds of lethal aid, including ammunition for Ukraine’s frontline defenders”.

This follows Biden’s assertion in a White House speech on Wednesday that he now expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to “move in” and invade Ukraine, in an act that would signify the return of full-scale war in continental Europe for the first time in a generation.

“I guess he’s going to move in,” Biden said in response to questions about the possibility of an invasion. “He has to do something.”

It was also reported on Saturday that political advisers from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany would hold “Normandy format” talks on eastern Ukraine in Paris on January 25. Reuters attributed the development to a source in Putin’s administration.

Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukraine’s chief negotiator Andriy Yermak, confirmed a meeting in Paris was planned but told Reuters a preliminary date had been set for January 26.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Russian diplomats in Switzerland on Friday in an attempt to avoid conflict, with Blinken and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov adopting a conciliatory tone and the ongoing diplomatic process.

“We didn’t expect breakthroughs to happen today,” Blinken said after the meeting. “But I think we are now on a clearer path in terms of understanding everyone’s concerns.”

British and Russian defense ministers will meet after Russia’s Sergei Shoigu accepted an invitation from Britain’s Ben Wallace to discuss mutual security. They will meet in Moscow.

“The Secretary of State has been clear that he will explore all avenues to achieve stability and a resolution to the Ukrainian crisis. We are in communication with the Russian government,” a senior UK defense source told PA Media.

It comes after Downing Street warned Russia would be ‘punished’ if the country continued ‘destabilizing action’ in Ukraine, as around 100,000 Russian troops sit on Ukraine’s borders.

Number 10 said that if Putin launched an offensive, there would be a “radical set of measures” launched by Western allies against the Kremlin.

But Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, demanded early action, saying the UK should be prepared to support Ukraine financially to make it ready for an invasion.

“I would like to see us all go further, because one of the things that is holding back the ability of the Ukrainian people to mobilize their armed forces to deal with such an invasion is that it has a huge effect on the economy of not any country,” Tugendhat said. told the BBC. “If you take hundreds of thousands of people out of the workforce to stand guard, they will have a real impact on jobs and lives in other sectors.”

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons Defense Committee, echoed concerns of imminent military antagonism and said he believed a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be “imminent”.

“Putin is taking full advantage of a weakened West. We seem risk averse, somewhat shy,” he told the BBC. “Putin’s ultimatum asking NATO to push back, of course, it was rejected but it gave him the pretext to say that there is an aggressor and that he must act.”

“We see these formations of combat-ready troops. He actually locked himself in a corner because so much effort went into it,” Ellwood added. “He also recognizes that he will never again be so strong to take advantage of the West’s weakness. I suspect an invasion is now imminent.