Ukraine president says embassy evacuations ‘a big mistake’

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says it is a mistake for countries to move their diplomats from Kyiv in fear of a Russian assault.

“It is a big mistake that some embassies — well, this is their decision — are moving to western Ukraine,” he said, after some international missions opened offices in the city of Lviv.

“Because there is no western Ukraine, there is Ukraine, it is whole. So if, God forbid, something happens it will be everywhere.”

The US and Israel are among a number of countries that have taken steps to evacuate staff. Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has said Israel may expand its Lviv mission. Leaders have also called on Israeli citizens to leave Ukraine and extended help to local Jews.

A man walks with his dog in front of the US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, February 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko)

US intelligence has warned that Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine’s borders, could invade within days, and some officials fear a lightning strike against the capital.

Kyiv has said the evacuations are an overreaction and accused those withdrawing diplomats and urging citizens to leave of giving in to Russian pressure.

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