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The State Department has reportedly told families of those serving in the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to begin evacuating as early as Monday.
Fox News Pentagon correspondent Lucas Tomlinson broke the news Saturday morning, writing on Twitter: “State Department orders families of U.S. embassy personnel in Ukraine to begin evacuating the country as soon as Monday: U.S. officials.”
BREAKING: State Department orders families of U.S. embassy personnel in Ukraine to begin evacuating the country as soon as Monday: U.S. officials
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) January 22, 2022
The news follows reporting Friday night that the State Department was considering pulling the families of diplomats out of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, due to fears of an impending Russian invasion. Fox News reported that “Russia has amassed a force of around 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border as talks continue between the Russian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department.”
“People familiar with the matter” told Bloomberg on Friday that the plan being consider would order family members of diplomats to return home and allow non-essential employees the option to leave voluntarily.
“The U.S. employs about 180 American citizens and 560 Ukrainians at its embassy in Kyiv, according to the embassy website. That doesn’t include family members, so the number of U.S. citizens living in embassy housing is probably much higher,” Bloomberg reported.
The news comes as the Biden administration has stumbled on its messaging around the threat Russia poses to Ukraine. The administration has increased its warnings about a potential invasion as it continues to engage in negotiations with Russia and Europe.
As Bloomberg noted, the decision to evacuate doesn’t necessarily mean the U.S. is sure Russia is about to invade Ukraine, merely that the U.S. is taking extra precautions “as tensions rise.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the White House was forced to issue a statement clarifying President Joe Bidens remarks about a potential Russian invasion into Ukraine.
“It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do,” Biden told reporters last week. “But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine.”
Biden was then asked what he meant by “minor incursion,” to which the president said he would draw a line at “Russian forces crossing the border, killing Ukrainian fighters.”
Following a backlash, including a rebuke by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky who said “there are no minor incursions,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki released a statement attempting to clarify Biden’s remarks:
President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies. President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response.