US temporarily relocates embassy in Ukraine to western city of Lviv******
A woman passes by the closed US embassy in Kiev after operations were moved to Lviv on February 14, 2022.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Monday that the United States will temporarily relocate its embassy in Ukraine from the capital city of Kiev to the western city of Lviv, citing escalating tensions on Ukraine's borders.
"We are in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces," Blinken said, using the Romanized spelling of the name of the capital city from the Ukrainian language.
"The Embassy will remain engaged with the Ukrainian government, coordinating diplomatic engagement in Ukraine," the secretary said, adding that his country also remains "engaged with the Russian government" and that the "path for diplomacy remains available."
The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of most US direct hire employees from the embassy in Kiev, a decision it claimed was made "due to the continued threat of Russian military action" against neighboring Ukraine.
Passport, visa and other routine consular services have been suspended since Sunday, according to the department, and the mission of the now-reduced US diplomatic team is to "handle emergencies" in Lviv.
US and Russian top diplomats and defense officials held separate telephone conversations Saturday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, followed later in the same day by a high-stakes phone call between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In addition to evacuating its diplomatic staff, the United States has also been urging its nationals currently in Ukraine to depart immediately, warning that those who choose to stay cannot count on the US military to come to their rescue in the event that war breaks out in Ukraine.
Washington has been releasing intelligence purporting an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine but refused to back it up with details. Moscow, for its part, has repeatedly denied any intention to invade, accusing the Biden administration of "hysteria."