Kyiv, Feb 12 (EFE).- The United States on Saturday ordered the departure of most of its employees in Ukraine as tensions on the Eastern European nation’s border continued to escalate.
Russia also announced the “optimization of the staff of Russian overseas missions in Ukraine,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement published on Saturday.
The US embassy said that the withdrawal had taken place “due to continued reports of a Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, indicating potential for significant military action.”
Officials also warned against traveling to Ukraine and advised US citizens in the country to depart immediately “due to the continued threat of Russian military action.”
The decision to withdraw personnel from Ukraine came after the US announced on Friday that a Russian invasion could start at any point this week.
Latvia and Estonia joined the US, United Kingdom, New Zealand and several other countries urging their citizens to leave Ukraine.
“In view of a serious threat to security posed by Russia near the Ukrainian border and a credible threat of escalation of the situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges Latvian nationals to depart from Ukraine in the near term,” the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on its homepage on Friday night.
The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advice in a statement that warned against traveling to Ukraine at present.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a Saturday statement that it was essential to remain calm and avoid actions that undermine stability and sow panic.
Kuleba added that since the beginning of the crisis, which started with a build-up of more than 100,000 Russian soldiers on Ukraine’s border, the country’s leadership and the army had been working tirelessly to keep the country stable and ready for myriad scenarios and any aggressive actions against it.
“Additionally to military aid, the US is ready to provide enhanced support to Ukraine’s economy. Russia must have no doubt: Ukraine and its partners are ready for decisive actions to protect our country,” Kuleba said late on Friday.
In recent days, Ukrainian officials have been claiming that the situation in the country now is no different from what has been since 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and began supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.EFE