Families of US embassy personnel in Ukraine will be ordered by the State Department to evacuate as soon as Monday, according to reports, as Russian belligerence continues to mount.
Other Americans in Ukraine will be urged next week to flee the threatened country via commercial flights, federal officials told Fox News on Saturday — “while those are still available,” one said ominously.
The looming evacuation orders came as Ukraine accepted 200,000 pounds of American small arms and ammunition Friday night — the first installment of up to $75 million of lethal aid pledged by the US to counter Russia’s threatening buildup of troops along Ukraine’s eastern border.
“The shipment — and $2.7 billion USD since 2014 — demonstrates U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine bolster its defenses in the face of growing Russian aggression,” the US Embassy in Kiev tweeted late Friday — along with photos of large pallets of military-green containers being unloaded at an airport.
The delivery came amid a series of tweets from Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledging American support for its beleaguered ally — just days after President Joe Biden set off alarms with offhand comments that minimized a possible Russian invasion.
“I #StandWithUkraine,” Blinken tweeted Saturday. “@StateDept stands with Ukraine. The United States stands with Ukraine.”
Blinken also thanked the three Baltic nations that plan to send their stocks of American-made Javelin anti-tank weapons and Stinger air-defense systems to Kiev to assist in Ukraine’s defense efforts.
“I expedited and authorized and we fully endorse transfers of defensive equipment” from NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Blinken tweeted. “We salute them for their longstanding support to Ukraine.”
Blinken’s posts came just hours after his 90-minute meeting in Geneva with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ended in a stalemate, as Lavrov continued to insist that Russia has no plans to attack.
The Kremlin has warned against NATO attempts to boost Ukraine’s arsenal — but has continued to mass up to 100,000 troops in the region.
The Russian military has positioned advanced fighter jets in Belarus, just north of Ukraine, stoking fears within the Pentagon that Kiev is “now in the crosshairs,” a US official told Fox News.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this week that the shipments of weaponry “do nothing to reduce tensions.”
The US has rejected Moscow’s demands for a pledge that Ukraine will never be allowed to join NATO, and a promise that the Western European allies will pull forces back from Central and Eastern Europe.
With Post wires