Foreign Policy

The authorized and ordered departures followed assurances by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the U.S. and allied nations are prepared to counter Russia.

An instructor trains members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units, in a park in Kyiv on Jan. 22, 2022. | AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

By Nick Niedzwiadek, Nahal Toosi and Maeve Sheehey

01/23/2022 09:52 AM EST

Updated: 01/23/2022 07:39 PM EST

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The United States is ordering the relatives of American embassy staffers in Ukraine to leave the country, while giving certain diplomats the option to depart, the State Department said on Sunday, in the latest sign that American officials think Russia is likely to once again invade Ukraine.

The authorized and ordered departures followed assurances by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the U.S. and allied nations are prepared to counter Russia if it continues its aggressive actions toward Ukraine. Blinken said on Sunday that officials were readying an array of options to respond to various moves by Moscow, although a diplomatic resolution was the preferred path.

“We’re prepared either way,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Basically, at this point, the choice is Vladimir Putin’s,” he said of the Russian president, who previously invaded Ukraine in 2014.

Senior State Department officials, in announcing the departure decisions for U.S. Embassy staff and their families in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, reiterated earlier warnings that American citizens should avoid travel to the country at this time. U.S. citizens currently in Ukraine should consider leaving by commercial airlines or other available means, the officials added.

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