Ukraine crisis .. NATO launches maneuvers in the Mediterranean and Britain begins withdrawing diplomats from Kiev
Britain has begun withdrawing some of its staff from its embassy in Ukraine in response to the “escalating Russian threat”, amid an atmosphere of tension during which the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is launching maneuvers in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, the European Union foreign ministers are holding a regular meeting, with the participation of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, via video link, to discuss a set of files, most notably the crisis between Ukraine and Russia.
The crisis prompted the United States to decide to evacuate the families of its diplomats from Kiev, and the British Foreign Office announced on Monday that it had decided to withdraw some of its employees and their families from its embassy in Ukraine in response to the “escalating Russian threat.”
The British Foreign Office stated that its embassy in Kiev would remain open for “essential business”.
The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent said on Monday that Britain had already begun withdrawing staff from its embassy in Ukraine.
For its part, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said today, Monday, in a statement, that the US decision to evacuate the families of diplomats is a “premature measure that reflects excessive caution.”
The statement accused Russia of making active efforts to destabilize the internal situation in Ukraine, and added that media outlets publish misleading and false information to sow panic in the hearts of Ukrainians and foreigners.
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In the same context, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Monday, upon his arrival at the headquarters of the meeting of foreign ministers, that the Union will not request the withdrawal of the families of its diplomats from Ukraine, as the United States did.
“I see no reason to panic while the talks are ongoing, unless the United States provides us with information that justifies the decision” to leave Ukraine, he added.
Borrell said that US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will explain this decision during his meeting with the foreign ministers of the European Union, and he will also talk about the content of the talks he held last Friday with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
A US official told reporters on Sunday evening that the United States believes that “a Russian invasion could happen at any moment”, as part of its interpretation of the US decision to withdraw the families of diplomats from Ukraine.
On the ground, NATO will today launch military maneuvers in the Mediterranean waters that will continue until February 4th.
The exercise aims to demonstrate NATO’s ability to integrate the advanced naval strike capabilities of an aircraft carrier strike group, to enhance deterrence and defense of the alliance.
A US Defense Department spokesman said the exercises had been planned since 2020, but that the decision to go ahead came in light of “uncertainty” about Russia’s intentions toward Ukraine.
In the same context, US media said on Sunday that US President Joe Biden is considering deploying thousands of his country’s forces and NATO forces in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe.