Ukraine has declared a state of emergency in the country and advised its estimated 3 million citizens living in Russia to leave the country, the latest signal that Kyiv believes Moscow may be planning a full scale invasion into Ukraine.
In a statement on Wednesday, February 23, the Ukrainian foreign ministry urged its citizens to refrain from travel to Russia and for those already in the country to leave as soon as possible.
“Due to the increased Russian aggression against Ukraine, which, among other things, may lead to a significant restriction of the ability to provide consular assistance on the territory of the Russian Federation, the ministry of foreign affairs recommends that Ukrainian citizens refrain from any travel to the Russian Federation, and those who are in this country immediately leave its territory,” the ministry statement said.
The ministry also warned that it would have limited resources to help Ukrainians who remain in Russia in case of a major diplomatic rupture between both countries .
“We emphasise that ignoring their recommendations will significantly complicate ensuring proper protection of Ukrainian citizens in the Russian Federation,” the note read.
Ukrainians make up the largest diaspora community in Russia.
An estimated 3 million Ukrainian citizens live in Russia as at 2019.
Alao, the National Security and Defence Council has asked parliament to impose a state of emergency throughout Ukraine, except for Luhansk and Donetsk –the two regions recognized by Russia as Independent countries.
The NSDC held a long meeting on Tuesday morning, after Russia began moving troops across the border into the separatist-held territories it recognised on Monday, and the US announced that the invasion of Ukraine it had been warning about for weeks had begun.
“The issue of declaring a state of emergency was discussed … The decision was made. According to our legislation, the Verkhovna Rada must approve this decision within 48 minutes … A state of emergency will be introduced throughout Ukraine, except for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” NSDC secretary Danilov told reporters.
Measures will be tightened or softened depending on the situation in different parts of the country, he said, noting that the emergency is planned to be declared for 30 days and can be extended up to 60 days. After declaring the emergency state, the authorities do not plan to confiscate registered weapons from the population, the NSDC chief added.