UK begins withdrawing staff and families from embassy in Ukraine

Some British embassy staff and their dependants are being pulled out of Kyiv in response to the mounting Russian threat to Ukraine.

The Foreign Office confirmed the move after the United States ordered the families of all American personnel at the US Embassy to leave the country in response the the risk of an invasion.

Russian forces have massed at the border with Ukraine and intense diplomatic activity has failed to ease tensions.

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The Foreign Office said: “Some embassy staff and dependants are being withdrawn from Kyiv in response to the growing threat from Russia.

“The British Embassy remains open and will continue to carry out essential work.”

The UK believes there is a significant risk that Russian president Vladimir Putin will launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine: Russian invasion may be 'imminent', says chair of defence committee

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has accused the president of plotting to install a pro-Moscow leader as head of the Ukrainian government.

In a statement on Saturday, the Foreign Secretary said the Russian plotting showed the lengths to which the Kremlin was prepared go to undermine the government in Kyiv.

“The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking,” she said.

“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy.

The Foreign Office took the unusual step of naming former Ukrainian MP Yevhen Murayev as a potential Kremlin candidate to take over in Kyiv – a claim dismissed as provocative “nonsense” by Moscow.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab warned on Sunday there was a “very significant risk” of a Russian invasion of its neighbour.

“The world needs to keep its eye on this and be very clear with President Putin that it would not do this cost-free, that there would be a price,” he told the BBC.

“A price in terms of the strenuous defence that we would expect the Ukrainians to put up, but also the economic cost through sanctions, which are of course more effective if the international community speaks as one or at least with a broad consensus.”

There are concerns that the crisis could trigger a spike in European energy prices, with The Times reporting that officials fear Russia could restrict supplies of gas in response to sanctions.