WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Americans in Ukraine are preparing for the worst amid growing concern Russia could make a military move on Ukraine and as the tension between the West and Russia escalates.
The Pentagon ordered 8,500 troops on higher alert to potentially deploy to Europe as part of a NATO “response force” Monday.
Ulijana Zamaslo, a New Jersey native living in Ukraine, told NewsNation she was planning on waiting a few days to see how the situation played out until she heard the warnings from the State Department.
“It was fairly clear we would have to go. The question of course was when to go,” Zamaslo said on “Morning in America”. “Tuesday’s news in part that they were evacuating or had evacuated the embassy in part was why we chose to leave Wednesday morning.”
Zamaslo said along with her daughter, they drove to the western part of Ukraine, the only border where there is no buildup of Russian troops.
Another American who lives in Ukraine, who NewsNation only identified as Ryan for safety concerns, said he is ready to leave any day now.
“I’m definitely nervous, I have a plan to visit a neighboring country in the next few days,” said Ryan. “I’m within driving distance of another country. I’m just gonna drive there, and maybe stay a few days.”
Both Ryan and Zamalso expressed concern over being able to travel commercially amid the rising tensions. The State Department issued a travel advisory Sunday and ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine to leave the country.
“Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk,” the department advised.
The travel advisory for Russia was also changed: “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”
The State Department has not clarified how many Americans it believes are currently in Ukraine. U.S. citizens are not required to register with embassies when they arrive or plan to stay abroad for extended periods.