Iraq calls on citizens to leave Ukraine

File – Iraqi flag is raised during protests in Iraq (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq on Saturday called on its citizens to leave Ukraine, as indications that Russia will invade Ukraine have increased.

Iraq on Saturday called on its citizens to leave Ukraine, as indications that Russia will invade Ukraine have increased.

“For the security and safety of the Iraqi community in Ukraine and as a result of the current circumstances there, the ministry urges the honorable community to leave the Ukrainian lands,” Iraq’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also urged Iraqis to avoid travels to Ukraine.

Countries around the world including the United States and Britain have urged their citizens to leave Ukraine right away to avoid a Russian invasion, that Washington said could occur anytime.

U.S. officials said Russia could invade Ukraine before the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on February 20 and may seek to seize the capital of Kyiv and other cities.

Moscow accused Western nations of spreading lies to distract from their own aggressive acts.

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukraine border but denies it plans to invade.

Russia wants guarantees from the West, including a promise of no missile deployments near its borders, no NATO membership for Ukraine, and a scaling back of the alliance’s military infrastructure.

Commercial satellite images from a U.S. firm showed new Russian military deployments at several sites near the border.

Biden said in an interview with NBC News that Americans should leave Ukraine “now”.

“It’s not like we’re dealing with a terrorist organization. We’re dealing with one of the largest armies in the world. It’s a very different situation, and things could go crazy quickly,” Biden said.

Regarding any scenario that could prompt him to send troops to rescue Americans fleeing Ukraine, Biden said: “There’s not. That’s a world war when Americans and Russia start shooting at one another.”

“We’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been,” he added.

After the interview, Biden held a phone call on the crisis with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Poland and Romania, as well as heads of NATO and the EU, Reuters reported.

The leaders agreed to make coordinated efforts to deter Russian aggression, including by being ready to impose “massive consequences and severe economic costs” if it chose military escalation, the White House said after the call, according to Reuters.

Washington also expressed concern that Russia and China were cooperating at the highest level, with a senior administration official saying on Saturday the two were “working to undermine us.”

A partnership agreement between Moscow and Beijing shows they are in “fundamental alignment” that is growing closer, and a meeting between Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping shows Beijing sees Moscow’s moves regarding Ukraine as “legitimate,” the official told reporters accompanying Blinken on a flight from Australia to Fiji.

U.S. officials believe the crisis could be reaching a critical point, with rhetoric from Moscow hardening, six Russian warships reaching the Black Sea, and more Russian military equipment arriving in Belarus.

“We continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Moscow has said it could take unspecified “military-technical” action if its demands are not met. This week it launched joint military exercises in neighboring Belarus and naval drills in the Black Sea.

Diplomatic efforts have so far failed to yield results.

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