NATO sends fighter jets as Russia preps to invade; UK, US pull staff from embassies in Ukraine

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(Video Credit: CNN)

As both the United States and the United Kingdom start withdrawing some staff members from Ukraine on Monday, NATO has announced that it will send fighter jets and ships to eastern Europe as Russia prepares for a potential invasion of the country.

The British Embassy in Kyiv is pulling out some of its staffers while the United States has ordered the families of U.S. Embassy personnel in the city to begin evacuating according to Fox News. The catch is U.S. personnel have to pay their own way home in a move reminiscent of the Afghanistan botched evacuation.

The U.S. has warned Americans not to travel to Ukraine and Russia due to the “potential for harassment against U.S. citizens.” Non-essential embassy staff has been given permission to leave and U.S. citizens have been told to depart the country.

Though the U.S. has stressed this is not an evacuation, the state department told the AFP news agency that if there was a Russian invasion, it would “not be in a position to evacuate US citizens.”

Ukraine said it was “premature” of the US to withdraw staff and “a display of excessive caution.”

Melinda Simmons, who is the British ambassador to Ukraine, tweeted that the U.K. embassy is open and “we will be continuing with our work alongside [Ukrainian flag] partners.”

Officials are stating there have been no specific threats to British diplomats, but approximately half of the staff working in Kyiv will return to the U.K. Staff working at the EU embassy will remain for now, with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell saying he would not “dramatize” the tensions according to the BBC.

NATO made the announcement that it will enter the region shortly after Russia banged harder on the war drums and warned the United States against positioning troops in Eastern Europe. With 100,000 troops situated on the border of Ukraine, Russia could invade at any time according to officials.

“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 declared in a statement.

(Video Credit: CBS Sunday Morning)

Members of the Nato alliance, including Denmark, Spain, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands, are sending more fighter jets and warships to Eastern Europe to bolster defenses in the region against a potential Russian invasion.

Russia replied that it will “respond appropriately” if the U.S. deploys troops in the region, according to Reuters.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked on Sunday whether there was “any scenario” where U.S. troops would be deployed to defend Ukraine. He deflected, asserting that U.S. and European allies are looking at “practical and important” responses to Russian aggression in the region.

“Even as we’re engaged in diplomacy, we are very much focused on building up defense, building up deterrence,” Blinken noted during an interview Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “NATO itself will continue to be reinforced in a significant way if Russia commits renewed acts of aggression. All of that is on the table.”

His response to questions on the issue was vague and will almost certainly be seen as weak by Russia and Vladimir Putin.

(Video Credit: Face the Nation)

The European Union is attempting to present a united front as tensions escalate with Russia.

“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.

Russia continues to insist they are not going to invade Ukraine, however, the military buildup on the border indicates otherwise. Things did not get better after talks on Friday between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

Putin sees NATO expansion as a threat and wants assurances from them that they will not allow Ukraine to join its ranks. NATO flatly contends that those demands are unacceptable and Ukraine has a right to join if they choose to do so.

Russia is allegedly prepping to hold war games off the coast of Ireland according to Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Those are international waters but are also within Ireland’s exclusive economic zone.

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

On Sunday, the UK Foreign Office accused Putin of planning to install a pro-Moscow figure to take over Ukraine’s government.

Former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev called the claims “stupid” in an interview with Reuters news agency and denied all of it.

The New York Times is also reporting that President Biden is considering deploying several thousand U.S. troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe.

The Biden administration is keenly interested in any indication that Russia may deploy tactical nuclear weapons to Ukraine’s border, a move that Russian officials have openly stated is an option.

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