‘No decision yet’ to ask Irish citizens to leave Ukraine

The UK Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to urge UK nationals to ‘leave now while commercial means are still available’.

11 February 2022

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said it is monitoring the situation in Ukraine, after a number of countries warned their citizens to leave the country amid ongoing tensions at the Russian border.

The UK Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to urge UK nationals to “leave now while commercial means are still available”.

It came after UK prime minister Boris Johnson voiced fears for the security of Europe during a call with Western leaders including US President Joe Biden.

On Friday evening, a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland said that “ongoing contact” is taking place with “EU partners, as well as the UK and the US, regarding the political and security situation in Ukraine”.

“Our Embassy in Kyiv is in constant coordination with partners on the ground in respect of consular and security contingency planning and that coordination will continue through the weekend.

“We are aware of the decision today by the US and UK to change their travel advice to their citizens currently in Ukraine and to advise them to leave,” the statement said.

Currently, Ireland is advising against non-essential travel to Ukraine.

Foreign Affairs officials have also asked all Irish citizens in Ukraine to ensure that they are registered with the Irish embassy in Kyiv.

“Travel advice will be kept under constant review, in consultation with EU partners,” the statement read.

“A small number of Embassies in Kyiv, including the UK, US, Canada, have drawn down non-essential personnel and family members of diplomatic staff only.

“Essential diplomatic and consular staff remain. There are no plans to withdraw staff from the Embassy of Ireland in Kyiv at this time.

“The Department is in ongoing direct contact with Irish families scheduled to travel to Ukraine for surrogacy purposes and will continue to provide advice and assistance.

“We continue to call on Russia to de-escalate, abide by international law and engage constructively in dialogue. Recent high-level discussions are welcome. These now need to translate into immediate, tangible actions and a commitment to dialogue.”

Mr Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan earlier said an attack before the end of the Winter Olympics on February 20 was a “credible prospect”, assigning it a “very, very distinct possibility”.

He said new Russian forces were arriving at the border and are in a position to “mount a major military operation in Ukraine any day now”, which could include a “rapid assault on the city of Kyiv” or on other parts of the country.

Speaking from the White House, Mr Sullivan said Russia could choose “in very short order to commence a major military action against Ukraine”, but stressed the US does not know whether Mr Putin has made a final decision.

Mr Sullivan said the “threat is now immediate enough” to urge Americans to leave Ukraine “as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours”.

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