Ukraine tensions: US defends evacuating embassy as Zelensky urges calm

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the « imminent » threat of Russian military action in Ukraine justifies evacuating the US embassy in Kyiv.

His words came after Ukraine’s president urged calm, saying the biggest enemy was panic.

More than a dozen countries have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine.

Moscow, with more than 100,000 troops near the border, has denied it plans to invade.

The Kremlin’s top foreign policy advisor, Yuri Ushakov, has dismissed US warnings of an attack, saying « hysteria has reached its peak ».

The crisis comes eight years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula. Since then, Ukraine’s military has been locked in a war with Russian-backed rebels in eastern areas near Russia’s borders.

Saturday saw further attempts to de-escalate tensions in the region. In a phone call, President Joe Biden warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin of « swift and severe costs » if Russia sends in troops.

Mr Biden will speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later on Sunday by phone.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, meanwhile, compared recent Western diplomatic efforts to stop an invasion to the appeasement of Nazi Germany.

Mr Wallace told the Sunday Times newspaper « there’s a whiff of Munich in the air », a reference to an agreement with Hitler that failed to prevent World War Two.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK Vadym Prystaiko however criticised Mr Wallace’s comments.

« It’s not the best time for us to offend our partners in the world, reminding them of this act which actually [brought] war, » he told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme.

World opinions – BBC News

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