The U.S. is decreasing its embassy staff in Kyiv as signs increase of an imminent attack from Russia. The State Department is warning all Americans to depart Ukraine immediately and the U.S. is moving 160 troops stationed in Ukraine to other parts of Europe.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP


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Efrem Lukatsky/AP


The U.S. is decreasing its embassy staff in Kyiv as signs increase of an imminent attack from Russia. The State Department is warning all Americans to depart Ukraine immediately and the U.S. is moving 160 troops stationed in Ukraine to other parts of Europe.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

The U.S. State Department is warning that it is “past time” for American citizens to leave Ukraine, as the threat of a Russian invasion remains imminent. Late Friday night, the department directed U.S. embassy staff in Kyiv to depart the country. The U.S. is also suspending most consular services in Ukraine starting Sunday.

President Biden was expected to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the crisis on Saturday.

The State Department’s travel advisory for Ukraine has also been updated, telling Americans in that country to “depart immediately.”

“We fervently hope and continue to work intensively to try to ensure that Ukraine does not become a war zone,” a senior State Department official said on Saturday at a news briefing. “However, it appears increasingly likely that this is where this situation is headed, toward some kind of active conflict.”

“That is why we are reducing our staff to a bare minimum while we still have the ability to get our official people out safely and in a predictable fashion,” the official said.

While the U.S. embassy is not closing, the staff remaining in Ukraine will conduct only essential business. Some staff is relocating to the office in Lviv, as well, where emergency consular services will be available.

The State Department is not detailing the exact number of personnel staying in the country, but says the staff remaining will include security support and communications staff.

The State Department official also said that while it is reducing its “official footprint” in Ukraine, the U.S. is still supporting the Ukrainian government and people. Ammunition from the U.S. is still arriving there, the official said.

The official said Ukrainian officials have remained “very professional” about the steps the U.S. is taking to decrease its presence, “even if all of them don’t necessarily agree.”

U.S. troops move out of Ukraine, re-position to other parts of Europe

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has also ordered a temporary repositioning of U.S. troops that had been deployed to Ukraine since late November — another indication that the U.S. believes Russia’s attack could come very soon.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Saturday that 160 members of the Florida National Guard who had been training Ukrainian forces will move elsewhere in Europe.

“The Secretary made this decision out of an abundance of caution — with the safety and security of our personnel foremost in mind — and informed by the State Department’s guidance on U.S. personnel in Ukraine,” Kirby said in a statement.

“This repositioning does not signify a change in our determination to support Ukraine’s Armed Forces, but will provide flexibility in assuring allies and deterring aggression,” Kirby added.

Blinken tells Russia a diplomatic path is still open

Several U.S. officials have been holding calls with their Russian counterparts, as well. Biden was set to speak with Putin Saturday morning. The White House says Russia proposed the call take place on Monday, but the U.S. said it wanted the call scheduled for Saturday, and Russia agreed.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Saturday.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken made it clear that a “diplomatic path to resolving the crisis remained open, but it would require Moscow to deescalate and engage in good-faith discussions.”

“[Blinken] reiterated that should Moscow pursue the path of aggression and further invade Ukraine, it would result in a resolute, massive, and united Transatlantic response,” Price said.

Austin has also spoken with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on Saturday, according to the Pentagon.



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