13 Feb, 2022 04:54
HomeRussia & FSU
Australia shuts down Kiev embassy
Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne © AP Photo/Hamish Blair
Canberra said the staff of its embassy in Ukraine were ordered to leave the country’s capital in a “temporary” move
Citing “deteriorating security situation” amid an alleged build-up of the Russian troops at the Ukraine border, Australia has ordered a temporary shutdown of its embassy in Kiev, saying that it would be relocating its operations to an office in Lviv in western Ukraine.
Announcing the move in a statement on Sunday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne also said that the government urges Australians to ”leave Ukraine immediately by commercial means” as “security conditions could change at short notice.”
She warned those Australians that would opt to remain in Ukraine of a potential “Russian military action," noting that it "would severely limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians.”
Canberra follows in the footsteps of several other western nations, who have already begun to partially evacuate their embassies, urging their citizens to flee Ukraine amid fears of a Russian invasion. Moscow has repeatedly denied that it intends to invade its neighbor.
Ukraine’s president asks West to share evidence of alleged Russian invasion
On Saturday, Washington ordered all “non-emergency US employees at the embassy” in Kiev to exit the country citing a possibility of a “significant military action.” All the consular services at the US embassy Ukraine’s capital have been suspended as of Sunday, with emergency consular servcies being provided from Lviv, the US State Department said.
Canada announced on Saturday that it would also be relocating its diplomatic staff to Lviv, which is near the border with Poland. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly vowed that the Kiev embassy would reopen as soon as the security situation “allows us to ensure the adequate delivery of services and guarantee the security of our staff."
Moscow has likewise directed some of the diplomats to leave Ukraine. Pointing to the exodus of western officials, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested that the US and allies might have an advance knowledge of “certain violent actions” that might “undermine security” of diplomats.
In contrast, UK Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons tweeted on Saturday that the British embassy in Kiev “remains operational”, saying that she personally would stay in the Ukranian capital together with a “core team” of diplomats.