While acknowledging that the threat is real, Ukrainian leaders are asking the nation for calm, assuring that a Russian invasion was not imminent, according to the Associated Press.
Although Russia denied that it was preparing an attack, it has gathered near the Ukrainian border approximately 100,000 soldiers, which has provoked the United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to predict a possible war.
In that sense, NATO assured to be reinforcing its deterrent forces in the Baltic Sea region, and the United States put on alert 8,500 troops for a possible deployment to Europe within a “response force” of the alliance if necessary.
In addition, the U.S. State Department ordered the families of U.S. personnel at the U.S. Embassy in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, to leave the country.
“A Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would seriously affect the ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services, including assisting U.S. citizens to leave Ukraine,” the department said.
Similarly, Britain and Australia said they would recall some diplomats. Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne even urged Australians in Ukraine to leave, saying that doing so “is a cautious and prudent step,” ABC News reported.
However, amid the tension, and after several diplomatic meetings this week failed to reach any resolution, Ukrainian authorities are trying to bring calm to their citizens.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday night that the situation was “under control” and that there is “no reason to panic, however Ukraine is preparing to receive a large military shipment from the United States on Tuesday to reinforce its defenses.
Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told Ukraine’s ICTV channel on Monday that “There are risky scenarios. They’re possible and probable in the future,” but because Russia had not yet formed ‘battle groups’ that would indicate that an attack is imminent, as of today “such a threat doesn’t exist.”
And Oleksiy Danylov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, further assured that Kiev “has no intention of attacking anyone,” referring to Moscow’s accusation of a possible offensive against separatists, and called on the media to “tone down the war rhetoric.”
Russia has said Western accusations that it is planning an invasion are simply to cover up planned NATO provocations. It also accused the U.S. on Monday through statements by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov of instigating escalating tensions.
At the meeting between Blinken and Lavrov in Geneva, the Russian defense minister again demanded that NATO stop advancing near its border and that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO, something NATO categorically refuses to do, thus posing a seemingly unsolvable situation that many fear could only end in war.