The United States decided to move its embassy in Ukraine from the capital, Kiev, to the city of Lviv, in the west of the country, under the pretext of “the acceleration of the Russian military build-up” on the country’s borders.
“We are in the process of moving our embassy in Ukraine from Kiev to the city of Lviv, due to the accelerating Russian military build-up on the border,” Foreign Minister Anthony Blinken said in a statement.
He added that the embassy “will continue its communication with the Ukrainian government and in coordinating diplomatic cooperation in Ukraine,” stressing that the United States “will continue its intense diplomatic efforts to ease the crisis.”
Blaken urged any American in Ukraine to leave the country immediately.
And the embassy in Kiev had significantly reduced the number of its staff, after the United States ordered most diplomats to leave the country, and suspended its consular work.
A small consular team has moved to Lviv, 70 km from the Polish border.
“All Americans have left,” a police officer assigned to guard the embassy building in Kiev was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
The lights can be seen on the ground floor, but there is no flag above the building.
The United States has warned of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Western countries have accused Moscow of massing 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine.
Russia has said that a diplomatic solution to its confrontation with the West is still possible.
The comments came after more than 10 countries asked their citizens to leave Ukraine, and the United States warned that the air strikes could start “at any time”.
But Russia has repeatedly denied that it intends to invade Ukraine, despite its military build-up on the border.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said separately that Russia still had time to “retreat” on Ukraine, calling on all parties to continue talks.
A statement said Johnson would chair an emergency security meeting on Tuesday to discuss Britain’s response to the crisis.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin asked his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov if there was a possibility of reaching an agreement with the West, or if diplomacy was “an attempt to drag us into endless negotiations.”
Lavrov replied, “The efforts have not been completely exhausted, but they should only continue indefinitely, but I propose to continue to exhaust them.”
These statements are seen as an acceptance that the talks may ease tensions. But analysts say the stalemate remains unless either side concedes on the thorny issue of Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
The Kremlin says it cannot accept that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic with close social and cultural ties with Russia, could one day join NATO. He demanded that this idea be dismissed. But NATO members rejected the Russian request.
What observers see as an indication of the possibility of easing tension is the speech of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to Putin in a meeting in the Kremlin, as he told him that some of the maneuvers that the country is conducting on the border with Ukraine have ended and others are nearing the end.
Russia is conducting joint military exercises with Belarus, which neighbors Ukraine in the north, and naval exercises in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, in southern Ukraine.
“Reader. Infuriatingly humble travel enthusiast. Extreme food scholar. Writer. Communicator.”