Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio issued a statement on Saturday urging “all Italian citizens in Ukraine to return home by commercial means and suspend all travel to the country”.
Di Maio announced after a meeting of the foreign ministry’s crisis response unit devoted to the situation in Ukraine amid warnings from Western powers that an invasion by Russia could be imminent.
The minister said the advice was “precautionary” and added that his ministry has “decided to bring back all non-essential staff from our embassy in Kyiv, which is fully operational.”
Russian foreign minister Lavrov “We are working to avoid escalation of the Ukraine crisis”, Di Maio said, adding that in recent days he has held talks with “my European counterparts and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.”
According to the BBC report, Russia has gathered around 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border but has denied any attack.
The invitation for Italians to leave Ukraine follows similar calls from the U.S., U.K., Japan, Norway, the Netherlands and Australia in issuing warnings to their citizens still in the country.
Dutch airline KLM announced on Saturday that it had suspended all flights through Ukrainian airspace until further notice.
There are about 2,000 Italians currently present in Ukraine, according to Italian state broadcaster RAI.
Italy’s latest travel advice, published on the Viaggiare Sicuri website on Saturday, said that “in light of the current situation”, Italians are invited to “temporarily leave” Ukraine with the “commercial means available”, adding: “Travel in any capacity to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the Crimea is not recommended.”
It also advises postponing “all non-essential trips” to Ukraine – given the “uncertain situation at the borders” – and to “keep constantly updated on the media and on this website.”
Italians who are present in the country are asked to register on the website www.dovesiamonelmondo.it and download the “Unità di Crisi” APP.
Italy’s embassy in Kyiv can be reached on the emergency number: +380 50 310 2111.