Latvia advises its nationals to leave Ukraine

In a sign of the high state of tension between Russia and Ukraine, Latvia has joined several other countries in advising all of its nationals in Ukraine to leave the country at the earliest opportunity.

"In view of a serious threat to security posed by Russia near the Ukrainian border and a credible threat of escalation of the situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges Latvian nationals to depart from Ukraine in the near term. We suggest that any accessible safe means of transportation be used – flights or land routes to or via EU/NATO member states," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Friday evening.

Latvian nationals who cannot leave Ukraine due to special circumstances are requested to register with the Consular Register at https://latvija.lv/lv/Epakalpojumi/EP139/Apraksts or apply to the Embassy of Latvia in Kyiv at https://www2.mfa.gov.lv/ukraine/vestnieciba, and follow information updates.

"Given the serious nature of the situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travelling to Ukraine at the present time," the Ministry said, adding that it is also disseminating a warning by means of SMS to all mobile communication subscribers registered in Latvia who are currently staying in Ukraine. The Embassy of Latvia in Ukraine is working to full capacity and in an emergency mode.

The move comes just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden and the State Department gave similar advice to American citizens in Ukraine. British nationals were also told to leave Ukraine Friday evening by the UK Foreign Office, and Estonia issued similar advice.

Speaking on LTV's Panorama news show Friday night, Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs said that rather than speaking about potential Russian aggression in a matter of weeks, it was now potentially a matter of days, though diplomatic efforts should continue and in a crisis situation information and predictions cannot always be relied upon one hundred percent. 

Nevertheless, the decision to tell Latvian nationals to leave Ukraine was based on available information at the present time, Rinkēvičs said. 

"Nothing is 100 per cent certain and hopes remain for diplomacy, but this is a moment in which we have to speak in words of warning, which are quite serious," Rinkēvičs said.

 

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