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US closing embassy in Kyiv, moving diplomats to western Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion

Feb 14, 2022, 12:40 PM | Updated: 12:43 pm
Kyiv embassy...
Kyiv, Ukraine. 24th Jan, 2022. A security officer is seen at the entrance to the US embassy. The US Department of State has ordered the families of the US embassy staff in Kiev to leave Ukraine and also offered non-essential embassy staff to do so voluntarily. The United States has warned its citizens not to travel to Ukraine due to the increased threat of Russian military action, the US State Department said. Credit: Anna Marchenko/TASS/Alamy Live News
Originally Published: 14 FEB 22 14:03 ET

(CNN) — The United States is closing the US Embassy in Kyiv and “temporarily relocating” the small number of remaining diplomatic personnel in the country to Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, “due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Monday.

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

Related: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moving missionaries out of Ukraine

“These prudent precautions in no way undermine our support for or our commitment to Ukraine. Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” he said. “We also continue our sincere efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, and we remain engaged with the Russian government following President Biden’s call with President Putin and my discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov.”

“The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage in good faith. We look forward to returning our staff to the Embassy as soon as conditions permit,” Blinken added.

Related: Utahn relays diplomatic experience in Ukraine, 14 years ago 

The moves comes days after the US ordered the vast majority of US government employees to leave the country and announced that consular services at the US Embassy would be suspended as of Sunday. The State Department said this weekend it would keep a small consular presence in Lviv for emergency services.

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

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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US closing embassy in Kyiv, moving diplomats to western Ukraine amid fears of Russian invasion