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Russia Evacuating Embassy In Ukraine With Region On The Brink Of War

According to state news agency Tass, Russia began pulling personnel from its diplomatic posts in Ukraine, citing threats.
Ukrainian army officer on a local train
Posted at 10:00 AM, Feb 23, 2022

Russia began evacuating its embassy in Kyiv, and Ukraine urged its citizens to leave Russia on Wednesday as the region braced for further confrontation after President Vladimir Putin received authorization to use military force outside his country and the West responded with sanctions.

Hopes for a diplomatic way out of a new, potentially devastating war in Europe appeared all but sunk as the U.S. and key European allies accused Moscow on Tuesday of crossing a red line in rolling over Ukraine's border into separatist regions — with some calling it an invasion.

Russia began pulling personnel from its diplomatic posts in Ukraine, state news agency Tass reported, a day after the Foreign Ministry announced a plan to evacuate, citing threats. By Wednesday afternoon, the Russian flag was no longer flying over the embassy in Kyiv, according to an Associated Press photographer. Police surrounded the building.

After weeks of trying to project calm, Ukrainian authorities also signaled increasing concern on Wednesday. The Foreign Ministry advised against travel to Russia and recommended anyone there leave immediately, saying Moscow’s “aggression” could lead to a significant reduction in consular services.

The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council called for a nationwide state of emergency — subject to parliamentary approval. Oleksiy Danilov said it will be up to regional authorities to determine which measures to apply, but they could include additional protection for public facilities, restrictions on traffic, and additional transport and document checks.

Even as the conflict took a new, dangerous turn, leaders warned it could still get worse. Russian President Vladimir Putin has yet to unleash the force of the 150,000 troops massed on three sides of Ukraine, while U.S. President Joe Biden held back on even tougher sanctions that could cause economic turmoil for Russia but said they would go ahead if there is further aggression.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.