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Biden admin says it may not be able to evacuate Americans from Ukraine if Russia invades

President Joe Biden. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
January 24, 2022

President Joe Biden’s administration said on Sunday that it will not be able to evacuate Americans from Ukraine as a Russian invasion of the neighboring nation appears imminent.

“To be clear, President Biden has said military action by Russia could come at any time. The United States Government will not be in a position to evacuate U.S. citizens in such a contingency,” a senior State Department official said on Sunday during a special briefing via teleconference. “So U.S. citizens currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly, including by availing themselves of commercial options should they choose to leave the country.”

Over the weekend, the State Department elevated its travel advisory in Ukraine to “Level 4 – Do Not Travel due to the increased threats of significant Russian military action against Ukraine.”

“We always encourage U.S. citizens to read the entire Travel Advisory themselves, but I would like to reiterate a few key points and ask you to help us share them,” the official continued. “This elevation of the Travel Advisory level comes as there are reports Russia is planning significant military action against Ukraine. We want U.S. citizens in Ukraine to know that 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.”

“We want U.S. citizens in Ukraine to be aware, for their planning purposes, that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine,” the official added.

The administration ordered all families of U.S. government personnel in Kyiv, Ukraine, to leave the country “immediately” on Sunday due to the “increased threats” of a Russian invasion, and Biden is also considering sending thousands of U.S. troops to Eastern Europe to help bolster NATO forces.

In a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, the State Department said it made the order “out of an abundance of caution due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine.”

“We have been in consultation with the Ukrainian government about this step and are coordinating with Allied and partner embassies in Kyiv as they determine their posture,” the statement continued.

Following a briefing with advisors at Camp David on Sunday, Biden is reportedly considering sending 3,000 to 5,000 American troops to Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

Biden may also deploy U.S. warships to make port visits to threatened NATO allies, Fox reported.

The Biden administration preemptively rejecting any evacuation requests from Ukraine comes after the administration abandoned hundreds of Americans in Afghanistan late last year.