Americans should consider leaving Ukraine “now,” non-emergency diplomatic employees were authorized to depart, and eligible family members were ordered to evacuate Sunday amid Russia’s continued military presence along the country’s border, the U.S. State Department said.
While family members were required to depart, the others covered by the travel advisory were not, a senior state department official said.
In an advisory Sunday evening, the State Department issued its most urgent travel warning, described as Level 4, or “do not travel,” which advises Americans not to go to Ukraine amid Russia’s buildup of more than 100,000 troops at its border.
The advisory cited “the increased threats of Russian military action.”
It came as President Joe Biden has said military action, including invasion, could be imminent. But the senior state department official said the advisory shouldn’t be taken as a sign the United States believes an invasion will definitely happen in the following hours or days.
“The U.S. government will not be in a position to evacuate us citizens,” the source said. “So U.S. citizens currently present in Ukraine [should] plan accordingly, including by availing themselves of commercial options, should they choose to leave the country and commercial options are available now.”
The official said today’s advisory is not intended to impact U.S. support for Ukraine.
“I just want to be clear that these are prudent precautions that in no way undermine our support for or commitment to Ukraine,” the senior official said. “And we continue to follow our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Abigail Williams is a producer and reporter for NBC News covering the State Department.
Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.