The “imminent” threat of Russian military intervention in Ukraine, according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, warrants the evacuation of the US embassy in Kyiv.
His remarks come after Ukraine’s president urged calm, claiming that hysteria was the deadliest adversary.
Moscow, which has over 100,000 troops stationed along the border, has rejected any intention of invading.
Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin’s top foreign policy adviser, downplayed US fears of an assault, claiming that “hysteria has reached its zenith.”
The situation has erupted eight years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in the south. Since then, Ukraine’s military has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, close to Russia’s borders.
More efforts to de-escalate tensions in the region were made on Saturday. President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that sending soldiers would result in “rapid and terrible costs.”
Later on Sunday, Mr. Biden will call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace compared previous Western diplomatic efforts to prevent an invasion to Nazi Germany’s appeasement.
“There’s a fragrance of Munich in the air,” Mr Wallace said, referring to an agreement with Hitler that failed to prevent World War Two.
Mr Wallace’s remarks were criticised by Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadym Prystaiko.
“This is not the greatest time for us to anger our international partners by reminding them of this deed that actually [caused] war,” he told the press.
Several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany, have advised their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately.
Following the United States’ decision to remove the majority of its embassy staff in Kyiv, Canada and Australia took similar steps. All three countries have instead relocated their operations to Lviv, near the Polish border, however the UK ambassador has stated that she will remain in Kiev with a core team.
Mr. Blinken claimed that the risk of military action was “high enough” and “imminent enough” that evacuation was “the responsible thing to do.”
Mr Zelensky stated that he had yet to see any concrete proof of an approaching invasion from Western forces.