January 24, 2022
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union does not plan to withdraw diplomats’ families from Ukraine at the moment, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday after Washington announced such a move, pointing out a military attack by Russia could come at any time.
The U.S. State Department announced on Sunday it was ordering diplomats’ family members to leave Ukraine, in one of the clearest signs yet that American officials are bracing for an aggressive Russian move in the region.
“We are not going to do the same thing because we don’t know any specific reasons. But (U.S.) Secretary (of State Antony) Blinken will inform us,” Borrell told reporters as he arrived for a meeting with his EU counterparts that Blinken is expected to join online at around 1400 GMT.
Tensions in Ukraine have been increasing for months after the Kremlin massed some 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, a dramatic buildup the West says is preparation for a war to prevent Ukraine from ever joining the NATO security alliance.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied planning to invade, but the Russian military already took a chunk of Ukrainian territory when it seized Crimea and backed separatist forces who took control of large parts of eastern Ukraine eight years ago.
“Negotiations are going on”, Borrell said, adding he saw no reason to leave Ukraine “unless Secretary Blinken gives us an information that justifies a move”.
The EU’s foreign ministers are expected to issue a warning to Russia over its troop buildup at Ukraine’s border.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Marine Strauss and Robin Emmott; Editing by Ingrid Melander)