“For fear of possible provocations from the Kiev regime or other countries, we have already decided to rationalize the staff at Russian missions in Ukraine,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.
“Given the great influence of Washington and London on Kiev (…) we consider that our American and British colleagues are aware of some moves that are being prepared in Ukraine that will greatly complicate the situation in the field of security,” Zakharova said.
On Friday, Washington warned of a possible imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Moscow described these statements as “hysteria”, while Kiev called for “calmness.”
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold phone talks with his US counterparts Joe Biden and French Emmanuel Macron, while US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken speaks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.
On Saturday, Russia also launched new large-scale naval exercises in the Black Sea. Moscow is also conducting large-scale military exercises in Belarus, near the borders of the European Union and Ukraine.
In a related context, Ukraine urged its citizens to remain calm and not panic in the face of growing fears that Russia is preparing to invade its neighbor.
“At this stage, it is very important to remain calm, strengthen the country internally, and avoid actions that destabilize the situation and sow panic,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The Ukrainian armed forces are constantly monitoring the situation and are ready to confront any infringement on its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” she added.
“Ukrainian diplomats are in constant contact with all major partners, and they quickly receive the information necessary to prepare a timely response,” she added.
Some media speculated that the incursion would begin shortly after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ended his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.
Since the outbreak of the crisis, Kiev has been seeking to mitigate the warnings issued by Washington.
The Ukrainian government fears that the US statements will dampen public morale and harm the faltering economy, by paralyzing business activities.