The Kremlin ordered its consulates in Kyiv and Lviv to prepare to leave the country. The New York Times found out about this from a source in the Security Service of Ukraine.
The outlet’s interlocutor stated that the members of the Russian diplomats’ families—a total of 18 people—had left Ukrainian territory by buses on January 5. Another 30 people are due to leave Ukraine shortly.
Washington knows about these actions of Russia.
"We have information that indicates the Russian government was preparing to evacuate their family members from the Russian Embassy in Ukraine in late December and early January," a U.S. official told the outlet.
It is assumed there that the "slow evacuation" may indicate that the RF is preparing for military operations, be part of Russian propaganda, or a bluff. Meanwhile, senior officials in the United States note that "no one but the leaders in the Kremlin seems to know exactly how the next days and weeks might play out" and whether there will be an invasion.
Russia states that Russian diplomatic institutions in Ukraine are working as normal.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry states that they know nothing about the evacuation of the Russian diplomats. In a commentary to Radio Liberty, Oleg Nikolenko, Spokesperson for the department, said that the Foreign Ministry "did not receive information from the Russian side about the evacuation of employees of the diplomatic institutions of the Russian Federation from Ukraine." He added that Ukraine was not going to take out its diplomats from Russia either.
Context. After the failed talks between the US, NATO, and EU countries with Russia, the Kremlin stated it was forced to leave its troops near the Ukrainian border.
"We can see a gradual NATO invasion of the territory of Ukraine with its infrastructure, its instructors, stockpiles of defensive and offensive weapons, training of the Ukrainian military and the like… And this was the main reason why President Putin said: "Guys, this is a real threat for us." And this is a real threat to stability and security in Europe and the European security architecture," Dmitry Peskov, a Spokesperson for the Russian president, said in an interview with CNN.