Israel’s diplomatic staff in Ukraine on Tuesday completed a relocation from the capital, Kyiv, to Lviv in the country’s west.
Staff were told to make the move by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid due to fears of an all-out Russian invasion that would target the Ukrainian capital.
According to Walla news, Jerusalem has notified both Ukraine and Russia of the new location of the mission to ensure its safety.
In a conversation with Ambassador Michael Brodsky and embassy staff, Lapid “emphasized that protecting the lives of Israel’s emissaries, Israeli citizens situated in Ukraine, and the large Jewish community in the country, is the State of Israel’s top priority.”
Lapid also thanked neighboring countries for agreeing to allow the passage of Israeli citizens through land border crossings if needed.
Lapid directed the embassy to begin the relocation on Monday. He and ministry staff in Jerusalem held detailed discussions on the logistics of the move following a situational assessment, a ministry spokesman said.
Embassy staff will work from a temporary consular facility that was opened in Lviv last Thursday, which is located in an office rented by Israel.
Other western nations, including the US and UK, moved their embassy staff to Lviv last week.
Separately, the Jewish Agency for Israel announced Monday that it was also moving its emissaries from Kyiv to Lviv.
The agency said it will continue to operate and provide services to Jews in Kyiv through local workers, and that it will reassess the decision early next week.
Israel’s diplomats in Ukraine have been working to convince the 15,000 Israelis in the country before the tensions to leave, but only around 3,100 have done so.
They are also preparing for the dramatic possibility of a land evacuation of the country’s Jews, estimated to number from 150,000-200,000.
On Sunday, Israeli diplomats serving in countries bordering Ukraine — Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova — visited border crossings and met with the officials in charge of the stations to discuss a potential land evacuation of Israelis and Ukrainian Jews should Russia invade.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two rebel-held Ukrainian separatist regions, further escalating sky-high tensions.
Western leaders said Russian forces have moved into those regions in eastern Ukraine, and prepared sanctions against Russia. As of Tuesday afternoon, they said a feared all-out invasion of Ukraine had not started.