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Blinken Explains US Embassy Staff Departure From Kiev, Doubling Down on 'Imminent Threat' Claims

© REUTERS / POOL / U.S. Secretary of State Blinken speaks about Russia and Ukraine in WashingtonU.S. Secretary of State Blinken speaks about Russia and Ukraine in Washington
U.S. Secretary of State Blinken speaks about Russia and Ukraine in Washington - Sputnik International, 1920, 13.02.2022
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) -On Saturday, the US State Department said that the United States was relocating some of its diplomatic personnel from the Ukrainian capital to the city of Lviv amid security concerns.
On Saturday, after talks with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in Hawaii, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the "high enough" risk of "Russian military action" and the "imminent enough" threat was the reason behind Washington's decision to relocate most of its embassy staff from Kiev.
"Yesterday, we ordered the departure of most of the Americans still at the US embassy in Kiev. The risk of Russian military action is high enough and the threat is imminent enough that this is the prudent thing to do," Blinken said at a joint press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Chung Eui-yong in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Saturday.
He specified that a core US diplomatic team will remain in Ukraine and will continue working there with Ukrainian colleagues. US security assistance to Kiev will continue, Blinken said, reiterating Washington's claims of a possible Russian military attack against Ukraine.
"No one should be surprised if Russia instigates a provocation or incident which it then uses to justify military action," Blinken claimed, saying that a diplomatic path remains open, and urging Moscow to de-escalate.
Over the past several days, countries like the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium and Finland told their citizens to leave Ukraine.
Russia, in its turn, decided to "optimize" the staff of Russian foreign missions in Ukraine in the event of possible provocations from Kiev or third countries, with the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokeswoman Maria Zakharova emphasising that the main missions to the country continue their work.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks on the phone - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.02.2022
Lavrov Tells Blinken Propaganda About 'Russian Aggression' Against Ukraine Has Provocative Purposes
Over the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of a troop build-up near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for an "invasion", that the West has dubbed on multiple occasions "imminent'. Moscow has denied these accusations, repeatedly stating that it is not threatening anyone and at the same time expressing strong concerns over NATO's military activity near the Russian borders, which it deems a threat to its national security.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held phone talks with US President Joe Biden at the initiative of the latter. Following the talks, Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov said that Russia had outlined "our considerations and stressed several times that we do not understand why it is necessary to transmit deliberately false information about Russian intentions to the media".
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