NATO announced on Monday it would increase its presence in eastern Europe, including ships and fighter jets, as a reaction to Russia's build-up at Ukraine's borders. Moscow has denied any plans to invade Ukraine, adding to a spate of signs that the West anticipates an aggressive Russian move against Ukraine.
"I welcome allies contributing additional forces to NATO," the Western military alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. "NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the alliance."
A day after the United States ordered diplomats' families to leave, Britain announced it had begun withdrawing staff and dependants from its embassy in Ukraine.
"Military action by Russia could come at any time," the US Embassy said in a statement. Officials "will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency, so US citizens currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly," it added.
Several US diplomats were allowed to leave the embassy in Kyiv on their own accord. Despite the latest talks between Russia and the U.S. failing to yield any big breakthrough on Friday, tensions over Ukraine have contributed to an increase in oil prices.
As part of its demands, Russia wants NATO to revoke a promise to permit Ukraine to join at some point, as well as to withdraw soldiers and weapons from former Communist states in eastern Europe that joined it after the Cold War. Although the U.S. says those demands are non-starters, it is prepared to talk about other ideas related to missile deployments, arms control, and confidence-building measures.
In a warning sent to Russia, the United States and the European Union said they did not intend to invade Ukraine. A meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels agreed that a unified warning would be sent to Moscow, with Denmark announcing that the EU is ready to impose sanctions never seen before.
Russian troops remain poised within range of the Ukrainian border estimated at 100,000. This week, Russia will receive a written response to its demands. In a statement, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry described the U.S. embassy move as "premature and excessive."
"In fact, there have been no cardinal changes in the security situation recently- the threat of new waves of Russian aggression has remained constant since 2014 and the build up of Russian troops near the state border began in April last year," it said.
A former Ukrainian lawmaker was being considered as a possible candidate to head a pro-Russian puppet government in Kiev, according to information obtained by Britain at the weekend. NATO is being accused of escalating tensions over Ukraine by the Russian Foreign Ministry. As of now, international affairs chief Josep Borrell says the EU does not intend to remove diplomats' families from Ukraine.
According to Annalena Baerbock, Germany will stay in Ukraine for the time being while it continuously assesses the situation.
The Latvian government has warned its citizens not to travel to Ukraine except in cases of "urgent necessity". Lithuanian foreign minister said sanctions against Russia should be "unbearable" if the country attacks Ukraine.
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