Ukraine tells citizens to leave Russia

Those who won’t heed the warning may not be protected by Kiev, Foreign Ministry said

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has advised Ukrainian citizens to “refrain from visiting the Russian Federation” for any reason. “Those currently in the country should leave its territory immediately,” the advisory released on Wednesday read.

The statement said that those who didn’t follow the instructions risked “a significantly higher difficulty” in being protected by Kiev.

The ministry had previously suggested that Ukraine should cut all diplomatic ties with Russia in response to the latter’s recognition of two breakaway regions in the east of the country as sovereign states.

On Tuesday, Russia ordered the evacuation of its diplomatic staff from Ukraine, citing threats received by the Russian Embassy. A number of other nations have moved their diplomats to the western part of Ukraine, citing a risk of military escalation between Russia and Ukraine.

Last weekend, the US advised its citizens in Russia to prepare for possible evacuation, claiming they risked falling victim to unspecified “attacks” there. Its embassy cited “media sources” as the reason for the warning, but it was not clear which ones.

Russia made the decision on Monday to recognize the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as sovereign states. It said it had been necessary due to Kiev’s years-long failure to move forward with the implementation of a 2015 peace roadmap, the Minsk agreements, which Russia had helped mediate. Instead, Moscow alleged, Ukraine was preparing a new attack on the rebellious provinces, as its Western supporters had been turning a blind eye to atrocities committed against the separatists.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the move “judicial aggression,” but stopped short of declaring martial law in his country.

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