UK pulls staff from Ukraine as fears of war rise

The United Kingdom has begun withdrawing staff from its embassy in Ukraine as fears persist of an imminent Russian invasion.

Britain’s move came after the United States took similar action.

The UK’s foreign office said in a statement on Monday that it was pulling out “some embassy staff and dependants” in response to “the growing threat from Russia”.

Tensions in Ukraine are high following a Russian buildup of some 100,000 troops near the border. The West says Moscow, which is angered by the growing relationship between Kyiv and NATO, is preparing to attack Ukraine.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied planning to make an incursion, but the Russian military already took a chunk of Ukrainian territory when it seized Crimea and backed separatist forces who took control of large parts of eastern Ukraine eight years ago.

Latvia warns its citizens not to travel to Ukraine

Latvia has advised its citizens against travelling to Ukraine and also has plans to evacuate its Kyiv embassy staff if necessary.

“If it is necessary to visit Ukraine, we invite you to register in the consular register of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Facebook.

Rinkevics said officials were “constantly evaluating the security situation and will act accordingly” with regards to the potential withdrawal of any embassy staff.

NATO sends ships, fighter jets to Eastern Europe

NATO has said that it is putting extra forces on standby and sending more ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe amid the ongoing tensions.

Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and deploying F-16 war planes to Lithuania, the military alliance said in a statement, while Spain is deploying ships to join NATO’s naval force and considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria.

The Netherlands is sending two F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria from April onwards to support NATO’s air-policing activities in the region, it added, and France has expressed its readiness to send troops to Romania.

Ireland says Russian war games off its coast ‘not welcome’

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said that Russia plans to holds war games off his country’s coast, a move that he described as “not welcome”.

Coveney told reporters that the exercises are due to take place 240 kilometers (150 miles) off Ireland’s southwest coast, in international waters but also within the country’s exclusive economic zone.

“We don’t have a power to prevent this happening but certainly I’ve made it clear to the Russian ambassador in Ireland that it’s not welcome,” Coveney said, as he arrived for talks focused on Russia and Ukraine with his EU counterparts in Brussels.

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