US Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine
US Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine iStock

The US State Department on Sunday ordered the families of all American personnel at the US Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion, The Associated Press reported.

The department told the dependents of staffers at the US Embassy in Kiev that they must leave the country. It also said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.

Fox Newsfirst reported on Saturday that the US will begin evacuating families of those employed in the US Embassy in Ukraine.

According to the report, Russia has amassed a force of about 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.

There are approximately 180 US citizens employed at the Kiev Embassy, with a higher number of US citizens living nearby.

State Department officials stressed on Sunday that the Kiev Embassy will remain open and that the announcement does not constitute an evacuation. The move had been under consideration for some time and does not reflect an easing of US support for Ukraine, the officials said, according to AP.

"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 Kiev," the State Department said in a statement.

Last week, US President Joe Biden issued a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid signs that Russia is planning an invasion in Ukraine.

"It is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine," Biden said in a press conference to mark a year of his presidency.

He added that Putin "will be held accountable" and has "never have seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed" if Russia makes further moves against Ukraine.

Biden predicted a Russian invasion of Ukraine, though he suggested a "minor incursion" would elicit a lesser response than a full-scale invasion of the country.

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