Yesterday, on January 17, The New York Times (NYT) claimed that Russia has removed almost 50 people from its consulates in Ukrainian Kiev and Lviv, referring to a senior official of the security service of the country. However, the Russian Foreign Ministry refuted the statements calling them empty and groundless.
According to a NYT source, 18 people left Ukraine on January 5, “mostly the children and wives of Russian diplomats.” The outlet claimed that after that, about 30 more people left Kiev and Lviv. The US administration said they knew about the impending evacuation.
“We have information indicating that the Russian government was preparing to evacuate members of their families from the Russian Embassy in Ukraine in late December and early January,” an unnamed US representative told the newspaper.
The US authorities believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has not yet made a decision to invade” Ukraine, writes NYT, though noting that the alleged “evacuation” may indicate an “impending attack,” even “there were no other signals about it.” According to the newspaper, the buildup of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine is not going as fast as the Pentagon predicted a month ago.
However, the Ukrainian authorities fear that Russian troops that are being transferred to Belarus for upcoming exercises “will remain there indefinitely, leaving Ukraine open to attack from the north, east, and south.”
“We will be completely surrounded by equal forces,” a senior Ukrainian official told NYT.
American intelligence said that the probability of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increases as it gets colder. According to foreign media, Western countries expect Russia to attack Ukraine in early 2022, Kommersant reports. In turn, the Kremlin called such statements unfounded. The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the US spread these rumours in order to have a pretext for its own attack.
Anyway, at present, the Russian Embassy in Ukraine “is operating normally,” which was reported to TASS on Tuesday, January 18, by the Russian Foreign Ministry representative. The Russian Embassy in Ukraine itself refused to comment on the NYT report.
“We are working normally, and we do not comment on the information of the sources of The New York Times,” a representative of the Russian Embassy in Ukraine said.
In addition, the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, confirmed that Russian diplomats in Ukraine and their family members, as well as staff of foreign institutions, continue to work in a normal mode, even though they receive personal threats.
“The Embassy and Consulates General of Russia in Ukraine are operating normally. They do this despite attacks on Russian foreign institutions by Ukrainian radicals and provocations by local security forces. But the American media did not write about this and will not write about it,” Zakharova wrote in her Telegram post.
She said the SBU (Ukrainian Security Service) will not provide American media with such information, pointing out that “the culture of checking published data by American journalists has been lost.”
“Threats to our employees in Ukraine are also personal: against diplomats, administrative and technical staff, family members. All this is regularly reported to the Ukrainian side in the form of protest notes. One recent example is the attack on the Russian Consulate General in Lviv with the use of Molotov cocktails. But, despite provocations and aggressive antics on the part of local radicals, I repeat: our foreign institutions work normally,” Zakharova stated.
The diplomat noted that if NYT had contacted the Russian diplomatic department for comment, it would know the truth about it.
“But then, apparently, the desire to publish all the material would have disappeared, and, accordingly, the opportunity to once again ‘hype’ on the topic of ‘Russian aggression’ was missed. So they would have to write about the aggression of Ukrainian nationalists and about those who cover it. And that means calls to the White House, requests from Jen Psaki… hell of a job, in a word,” Zakharova concluded.