Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday urged the European Union to stay united in the face of a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, his office said.
The United States, Britain and Baltic states have answered calls from Ukraine to bolster its defence capabilities by agreeing to send weapons, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles as tens of thousands of Russian troops gather on the Ukrainian border.
But key European Union member Germany has repeatedly rejected Kiev’s request to send arms.
On Monday, Zelensky told European Council President Charles Michel that it was “important to preserve the unity of all EU member states in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Ukraine.
On Monday, the Kremlin accused Ukraine of preparing an offensive in the east of the country where Kyiv troops have been fighting pro-Moscow separatists since 2014. The risk of such an operation “is very high, higher than before,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Zelensky’s office said Ukraine would not “succumb to provocations” and will remain “calm and restrained”.
The United States, Britain and Australia ordered diplomats’ families to leave Kyiv, while France told its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to Ukraine.
Both Kyiv and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said any withdrawal of diplomatic personnel appeared premature, in an apparent attempt to calm tensions.
“Thank you, Mr. President of the European Council, and the leaders of the EU countries whose diplomats remain in our country and support us in our work,” Zelensky told Michel, his office reported.
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There were no immediate reports of serious structural damage to buildings, but power was out in some areas of the city and people were fleeing to higher ground