Fox News’ Pentagon correspondent is reporting early Saturday that all family members of US embassy personnel in Kiev, Ukraine have been ordered to evacuate. “State Department orders families of U.S. embassy personnel in Ukraine to begin evacuating the country as soon as Monday: U.S. officials,” Fox’s Lucas Tomlinson reports.
It first emerged Friday that the Biden administration was mulling a plan to evacuate diplomats’ family members from Ukraine as a “precautionary measure” amid the continued crisis wherein Washington has predicted some level of a Russian offensive on the Ukraine border.
Russian fighter jets arriving in Belarus, north of Ukraine. U.S. officials concerned Ukraine's capital “now in the crosshairs.”
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) January 22, 2022
It’s unclear whether this means US intelligence has picked up on a particular new “threat” from Russia near Ukraine’s borders.
As Tomlinson reports further, Russian fighter jets on Friday into Saturday began arriving in nearby Belarus, with US officials expressing alarm that Ukraine’s capital is “now in the crosshairs”. CNN and The Guardian are also reporting early Saturday:
The US embassy in Ukraine has requested the evacuation of all non-essential staff amid increasing fears of an imminent Russian invasion and the arrival overnight of arms deliveries promised by President Joe Biden, according to a CNN report.
US evacuations are likely to start “as early as next week”, the US cable news network said, citing a source close to the Ukrainian government. It marks the embassy’s shift in focus towards “helping Ukraine bolster its defences in the face of growing Russian aggression”.
At the same time, Russia’s embassy in Washington D.C. has been calling on the West to “end the hysteria” – assuring that there are no plans to invade Ukraine. Earlier in the week it issued a message on Twitter, saying, “We stress once again: Russia is not going to attack anyone. The practice of moving troops on our own soil is a sovereign right.”
The shipment – and $2.7 billion USD since 2014 – demonstrates U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression. 🇺🇸🇺🇦 #partnershipstrong [2/2] pic.twitter.com/scPFWM3we7
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) January 22, 2022
During talks in Geneva on Friday between Antony Blinken and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov, there appeared to be positive signs that dialogue was opening up toward de-escalation. Just after, the US Embassy in Kiev posted photographs of newly arrived shipments of American-supplied lethal aid for Ukrainian forces.