Israel to Move Embassy From Kyiv to Lviv as Threat of Russian Invasion Grows
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has decided to evacuate the Israeli embassy in Kyiv and move diplomatic staff to consular offices opened in the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, amid preparations for a potential Russian invasion.
The Foreign Ministry said Lapid ordered the move following a recent assessment of the situation in the Ukraine and talks with a number of international officials. The consular office in Lviv has been open since Thursday to issue travel documents and passports to Israeli citizens who want to leave the country, primarily through land border crossings to neighboring countries, the Foreign Ministry said.
Israel “is prepared for any development, including the possibility of a land exit,” the Foreign Ministry stated. “Within this framework, Israeli diplomats stationed in Lviv as well as those serving in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova, and Hungary have held visits to border crossings with Ukraine, and meetings with the authorities at the crossings, in order to ensure the passage of Israeli citizens who wish to leave Ukraine.”
The decision comes after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Lapid, in recent days, repeated calls for Israeli citizens to immediately leave the Ukraine over growing fears of an impending Russian invasion, as diplomatic attempts by European leaders to avert an escalation of the conflict have not come to fruition. According to the Foreign Ministry, more than 3,000 Israelis have already left Ukraine out of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 residing in the country.
French and German leaders voiced disappointment on Monday as Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Kremlin was set to recognize Russia-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine as independent entities. Such a move would violate existing ceasefire agreements and could provide a pretext for Russian troops to cross the border into those areas.
President of the European Commission Ursala von der Leyen called that step “a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements.”
“The EU and its partners will react with unity, firmness and with determination in solidarity with Ukraine,” she said Monday afternoon.