As Russia continues to build up soldiers on its border with Ukraine, Australia has ordered all remaining embassy workers in Kyiv to depart, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The evacuation comes after similar announcements from the US and Canada, and after a flurry of phone diplomacy failed to defuse rising regional tensions on Saturday.
With over 100,000 troops, Russia has practically encircled its western neighbor. Tensions rose as the US threatened that an all-out invasion might start “any day” and Russia conducted its largest naval exercises in years across the Black Sea.
Morrison said Australia would relocate its operations to Lviv, a city around 540 kilometers (336 miles) east of Kyiv on Ukraine’s border with Poland. The three remaining staff members in Kyiv, he said, have been assisting “the numerous Australians [in Ukraine], many of whom are dual citizens.” “As you are all aware, the situation is deteriorating and has reached a very hazardous stage,” he stated.
While condemning Russia’s “autocratic, unilateral measures,” the prime minister also turned his attention to regional issues, chastising China for “remaining chillingly silence on Russian forces gathering on the Ukrainian border.” “The coalition of autocracies that we’re seeing, trying to bully other countries,” Morrison added. Foreign Minister Marise Payne of Australia renewed appeals for Australians to leave Ukraine as soon as possible, saying that “security situations could change at any time.”