A top official with the European Union said early on Monday that it will not join the United States in withdrawing the families of its diplomats from Ukraine amid heightened tensions and the possibility of an imminent invasion by Russia.
The Biden administration “told the dependents of staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense,” the Associated Press reported late on Sunday evening. “State Department officials stressed the Kyiv embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation.”
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, responded by telling reporters, “We are not going to do the same thing because we don’t know any specific reasons. But [U.S.] Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken will inform us.”
Borrell noted that “negotiations are going on” and that he did not see any reason to withdraw from Ukraine “unless Secretary Blinken gives us an information that justifies a move.”
AFP noted that Borrell indicated that there was no need to “dramatize” the situation, an apparent shot at Democrat President Joe Biden.
#BREAKING The EU is not following the US in withdrawing its diplomats' families from Ukraine, top European diplomat Josep Borrell says, adding there is no need to "dramatise" the situation while talks with Russia continue pic.twitter.com/Br2VXdEKlD
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) January 24, 2022
“The security conditions, particularly along Ukraine’s borders, in Russia-occupied Crimea, and in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine, are unpredictable and can deteriorate with little notice. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk.”
The development followed a string of news items that broke late on Sunday evening about the deteriorating situation between Ukraine and Russia.
Biden is considering the deployment of “several thousand U.S. troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe, an expansion of American military involvement amid mounting fears of a Russian incursion into Ukraine,” The New York Times reported. “The move would signal a major pivot for the Biden administration, which up until recently was taking a restrained stance on Ukraine, out of fear of provoking Russia into invading.”
The report said that senior military officials told Biden that he could deploy up to 5,000 U.S. troops to the region with the ability to ramp that number up “tenfold if things deteriorate.” Biden is expected to make a decision as early as this week about what course of action he will take.
“After years of tiptoeing around the question of how much military support to provide to Ukraine, for fear of provoking Russia, Biden officials have recently warned that the United States could throw its weight behind a Ukrainian insurgency should [Russian President Vladimir] Putin invade Ukraine,” the report added. “And the deployment of thousands of additional American troops to NATO’s eastern flank, which includes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Biden administration officials said, is exactly the scenario that Mr. Putin has wanted to avoid, as he has seen the western military alliance creep closer and closer to Russia’s own border.”