Some British staff and dependents are being withdrawn from the embassy in Ukraine in response to a growing military threat from Russia, the Foreign Office said.
Officials said there were no specific threats against British diplomats, as reports said about half the staff in Kyiv is set to return to the UK.
The move follows US officials who ordered relatives of embassy employees to leave Ukraine because a Russian invasion could come “at any time”. Russia has repeatedly denied having any plans for military action in Ukraine.
The Foreign Office said: “Some embassy employees and relatives are being withdrawn from Kyiv in response to the growing threat from Russia. The British Embassy remains open and will continue to carry out important work.”
Great Britain was criticized for this Failure to withdraw some staff from Afghanistan before the Taliban occupied Kabul in August. It is likely that British diplomats in Ukraine would be exposed as the UK has taken one of the most prominent roles in sending military equipment, including anti-tank missiles, to Ukraine.
In contrast, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was unaware of EU states’ plans to withdraw staff from their embassies, adding there was no reason to dramatize the situation. “We will not do the same because we don’t know any concrete reasons. but [the US] Secretary [of state, Antony] Blinking will let us know,” Borrell told reporters as he arrived for a meeting with his EU counterparts.
Blinken is expected to join the meeting via video link in the afternoon to continue its consultations with its European partners and to report on Friday’s meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied planning an invasion, but former UK national security adviser Mark Lyall Grant said on BBC radio he feared an invasion was imminent as the build-up of Russian troops in Belarus made an attack on Kiev more likely make.
Explaining his belief that diplomatic staff could remain in Ukraine, Borrell said: “Negotiations are ongoing,” adding that he believes the staff should not go “unless Secretary Blinken gives us information that one.” justify relocation”.
EU foreign ministers are expected to warn Russia about the troop build-up on the Ukrainian border. They will also discuss the formal written proposals to be sent by NATO to Russia on their proposed agenda for talks.
The Federal Foreign Office took the unusual step of naming a former Ukrainian MP on Saturday evening Jewhen Murajew as a potential Kremlin candidate for the Kiev takeover – a claim dismissed by Moscow as provocative “nonsense”.
Dominic Raab, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister, said on Sunday there was a very significant risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace will travel to Moscow for talks with his Russian counterpart.
Number 10 also warned over the weekend that without a successful combination of deterrence and diplomacy, thousands of lives could be lost in a war that would not be limited to conventional weapons but also to cyberattacks.
The US Embassy in Ukraine is one of the larger American missions in Europe. It has a total of about 900 staff, the vast majority of whom are Ukrainians, some of whom have been with the mission since it opened three decades ago.