Close the US embassy in Kiev and move the remaining diplomats to the West amid fears of a Russian invasion

“I have ordered these measures for one reason – the safety of our employees – and we strongly urge any US citizens remaining in Ukraine to leave the country immediately,” Blinken said in a statement.

The moves come days after the United States The order of the great majority of US government employees to leave the country and announced the suspension of consular services at the US embassy starting Sunday amid fears of an imminent Russian invasion, even as US officials assert they remain committed to trying to find a diplomatic outcome.

Although Moscow has said it is open to negotiations, State Department spokesman Ned Price noted on Monday that “it remains unclear to us whether Russia is interested in pursuing a diplomatic path rather than using force.”

Price said the decision to move all remaining diplomats from Kiev to western Ukraine was made because the State Department felt it was “absolutely necessary” due to the “obvious possibility, perhaps the most realistic ever, that Russia will decide to move forward with military action.”

“We base our assessment on what we see on the ground with our own eyes, which is continuous and unjustified Russian reinforcement on Ukraine’s borders and there is no accompanying evidence of de-escalation,” he said at a press briefing at the State Department. Ministry, noting that the Lviv site “provides it a degree of protection that may not be enjoyed by other places in Ukraine.”

There was “a great deal of careful planning that went into ‘moving the embassy’ and as proof of that, for example, we didn’t have to destroy any valid passports,” Price said.

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“We’ve taken prudent precautions when it comes to sensitive documents, sensitive equipment, but we can’t provide too many details there,” he said.

A senior US State Department official said Saturday that US diplomats have gotten rid of classified information in recent days in preparation for the embassy’s withdrawal.

Price noted that if Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine, “there would be widespread human suffering.”

US officials have repeatedly called on US citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, warning that a Russian invasion could come at any moment, including as soon as this week.

“What we’re trying to do publicly is to be transparent to American citizens that they should leave Ukraine immediately, because there won’t be a military evacuation in the event of an invasion,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on CNN’s State of the Union. ” Sunday.

intent to return

Price said the Ukrainian National Guard police will guard the US embassy in Kiev, adding: “We certainly intend to return to that embassy in Kiev as soon as it is safe for us to do so.” Price said the staff transferred to Lviv include the “core” diplomatic team, including Chargé d’Affairs Christina Kvyan, and “will remain in contact with the Ukrainian government to coordinate diplomatic efforts.”

Blinkin spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba on Monday – their second conversation in a matter of days – and emphasized “the commitment of the United States and its allies to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including its economic and financial stability.” The two discussed total financial support, according to KEV, and the Biden administration is considering providing up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine amid fears of a possible Russian invasion, multiple informed sources said.

Russia has surrounded Ukraine from three sides.  Here's where an invasion can be launched

The United States has also held talks with Moscow in recent days. Blinkin spoke with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov before President Joe Biden’s call with Putin.

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“On our call, Foreign Minister Lavrov said that the Russians are working on a response to the paper we sent to Moscow more than two weeks ago, suggesting specific areas for discussion,” Blinkin said on Saturday, adding that “it remains to be seen whether they will follow through on that, but if they do.” We will be ready to deal with our allies and partners.”

Late Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN correspondent Friedrich Bletgen that Putin is “ready to negotiate,” saying the Ukraine crisis is just one part of Russia’s larger security concerns.

Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Putin he saw an “opportunity” for a diplomatic dialogue with the West over Russia’s security concerns, saying he recommended continuing such efforts.

As of Monday, Price said, the United States had yet to receive this response from Moscow, “and for that to work, it also has to happen in the context of de-escalation, and that’s not something we’re doing. You’ve seen so far.”

CNN’s Frederic Bletgen contributed to this report.

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