NATO sending fighters, ships to region; UK to withdraw some staff from embassy in Ukraine

NATO sending fighters, ships to region; UK to withdraw some staff from embassy in Ukraine

NATO announced Monday that it will send fighter jets and ships to eastern Europe as tension with the alliance and Russia hit fever pitch due to the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The British Embassy in Ukraine said it will withdraw some staffers from Kyiv in response to the growing threat from Russia—just a day after U.S. officials told Fox News that the State Department ordered families of U.S. Embassy personnel in the city to begin evacuating.

FILE: The British Embassy in Ukraine announced that it will withdraw some staffers from Kyiv but insisted that the embassy   (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

FILE: The British Embassy in Ukraine announced that it will withdraw some staffers from Kyiv but insisted that the embassy   (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Melinda Simmons, the British ambassador to Ukraine, followed posted on Twitter that the embassy is open and “we will be continuing with our work alongside [Ukrainian flag] partners.”

NATO’s message came a short time after Moscow warned the U.S. against positioning troops in Eastern Europe.

“NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Russia reportedly said it would “respond appropriately” if the U.S. deploys troops in the region, the Interfax news reported, according to Reuters. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday dodged a question about whether there was “any scenario” in which U.S. troops would be deployed to defend Ukraine, saying that U.S. and European allies are looking at “practical and important” responses to Russian aggression in the region.

The European Union aims to show a united front in the face of what it sees as Russian aggression.

“All members of the European Union are united. We are showing unprecedented unity about the situation in Ukraine, with the strong coordination with the U.S.,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters in Brussels.

BLINKEN DODGES QUESTION ON SENDING US TROOPS TO UKRAINE

Russia has insisted that it has no intention to invade its neighbor, but its recent actions could suggest otherwise. Russian troops have been deployed to the eastern border with Ukraine and tensions were not eased after talks Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

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Russia wants concrete assurances that NATO will not continue to expand because Moscow sees that expansion as a security risk. NATO has said the demands are unacceptable and that joining the alliance is a right of any country and does not threaten Russia.

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said Russia is preparing to hold war games off Ireland’s 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 on Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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