Ukraine crisis: The United States closes its embassy in Kiev
Washington continues its emphatic calls to North Americans to leave the Eastern European country as soon as possible.
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Last week, the United States and the United Kingdom asked its citizens to leave Ukraine in fear of a possible military clash between Russia and NATO. This week, the governments of Switzerland, Japan and Singapore joined the chorus of foreign flees.
You can also read: Crisis in Ukraine, The Beginning of a Second Cold War?
Along with the urgent calls to citizens, U.S. President Joe Biden's administration made the decision to close its embassy in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, and it has been transferred to Lviv near the Western border and far from the border with Russia. There, only emergency services will be provided and no passports or visas will be issued.
But what are the implications of this latest action by Washington amid diplomatic efforts to deescalate the situation and avert war that still seems it could break out at any moment?
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken justified the measure as a response to "the drastic acceleration in the accumulation of Russian forces," which caused the U.S. to begin prioritizing the safety of its personnel.
With 181 State Department employees, Kiev was the third largest U.S. diplomatic post in Europe, and also locally employed 560 people. Blinken noted in his statement that they hoped to return the staff to the embassy as soon as the conditions permit it.
Despite the decision to call on all its citizens to leave the country, Blinken assured the Ukrainian government that the United States will continue to support them in the face of all forms of aggression from Russia.
In my conversation with Ukrainian Foreign Minister @DmytroKuleba today, I reiterated the U.S. will continue to support Ukraine against all forms of Russian aggression, including key financial assistance packages.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 14, 2022
The Biden administration already evacuated non-essential personnel last week, and dismantled all of its communications and systems equipment, which also includes confidential information.
Reactions to the announcement
Ned Price, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said the decision was necessary given the situation, "more real than ever," of a military intervention by Russia.
Russia’s continued escalation and threatening military posture have led the @StateDept to take actions to protect our staff. We have temporarily relocated a core team of staff and operations within Ukraine to Lviv. https://t.co/ei7pyu54QX— Ned Price (@StateDeptSpox) February 14, 2022
The price of a barrel of oil reached $96, something that has not happened since 2014. This trend, which has occurred in the face of a threat of a war in Ukraine, means it could soon be over $100.
While crude oil prices rose again, the Dow was trading 400 points lower (1.2%), closing the day with a drop of 172 points and a decrease in the S&P 500 of 1.1%. Likewise, natural gas reached historic increases of 7%, hitting session highs above $4.20 per million BTU.
Is there a date for the attack?
The Ukrainian government announced that an attack could take place in the middle of this week, something that was later explained as a sarcastic comment by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
For its part, the U.S. intelligence services observed the presence of more than 130,000 Russian soldiers on the border with Ukraine and the Pentagon warned that the invasion could take place with “little or no warning.”
This has been denied by the Russian government, who described the announcements as hysterical and absurd, assuring that the diplomatic options are far from exhausted and that their willingness to engage in dialogue continues.