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23rd May 2022

EU urges non-essential diplomats to leave Kyiv

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell (c) on a trip to Ukraine in January (Photo: European Commission)
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The European Union's envoy to Ukraine has urged non-essential staff at its embassy in Kyiv to leave amid heightening tension with Russia.

The EU ambassador, Matti Maasikas, sent a message to staff on Friday (11 February), encouraging the international personnel to leave as soon as possible.

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"Having exchanged with the headquarters in Brussels, I have urged all expat colleagues with the exception of the essential staff ... to leave Ukraine ASAP to telework from outside the country," the email read, according to EUobserver's sources. "I feel very sad," Maasikas wrote.

A spokesman for the EU's foreign service, Peter Stano, said the message to staff in Kyiv did not amount to an evacuation.

"We are not evacuating. For the time being, the non-essential staff has been given the opportunity to telework from outside the country," Stano told EUobserver on Friday.

US president Joe Biden earlier the same day urged US nationals to leave Ukraine due to the risk of conflict.

Australia, Canada, Israel, and the US have already pulled out non-essential diplomats — but the EU had kept its delegation in place in a show of solidarity with Ukraine.

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