Foreign Minister Yair Lapid urged Israelis on Sunday to leave Ukraine on one of the flights departing this week in light of an impending Russian invasion.
After a ministry's situation assessment, Lapid called on Israelis to board one of the 32 flights between Israel and Ukraine scheduled for this week, 10 of which slated for the next 48 hours. “The flights coming back from Ukraine [on Saturday] were full,” Lapid added.
Lapid met on Sunday Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Japarova. He expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine and told her about this decision to issue a travel warning to the country. He also said he hoped the escalation will be blocked by diplomatic talks led by the U.S. and emphasized his concern over the Jewish and Israeli residents in Ukraine.
In the statement issued after the situation assessment, Lapid said that the families of Israeli diplomats in Ukraine, over 150 people, are also making their way back to the country.
“We don't know how things will evolve between Russia and Ukraine in the coming days,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at a government meeting on Sunday.
“Like everyone around the world, we hope that the tensions will cool down,” Bennett said, “but it is our duty to take care of our citizens.” Bennett also urged all Israelis in Ukraine to return to the country.
The Foreign Ministry will hold two daily assessments of the situation in Ukraine and will operate in an emergency format.
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Thousands of Israelis have already submitted their evacuation requests to the ministry, and on Saturday, Arkia airlines announced two rescue flights.
American officials said that Russia has in place about 70 percent of the combat power it believes it would need for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Washington believes Russia may choose other options than a full-scale invasion, including a limited incursion, and does not believe President Vladimir Putin has made a final decision, the officials said.
Meanwhile, the Russian embassy in the United States continued to deny plans of invasion, with Russian ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov calling U.S. claims of an upcoming invasion a “propaganda campaign against our country.”