Feb 21, 2022 - World

Israel evacuates embassy in Kyiv due to fear of Russian invasion

Israeli President Herzog meets Ukrainian President Zelensky in October. Photo: Ukrainian presidency via Getty

Israel is evacuating its embassy in Kyiv and moving diplomats to Lviv in Western Ukraine due to growing concerns about a Russian invasion, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said on Monday.

Why it matters: Israel delayed this decision for several days and even sent more diplomats to Kyiv to help Israelis evacuate, but the government has now concluded that the Israelis who want to leave have left and it is too dangerous to keep diplomats in Kyiv. The U.S. embassy shifted operations to Lviv last week.

Behind the scenes: Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid made the decision on Monday evening local time in a meeting in the Foreign Ministry's Situation Room, after senior officials held calls with their U.S. and French counterparts and Lapid was briefed on the latest intelligence, Israeli officials tell me.

  • “Based on this intelligence it was decided to evacuate the Israeli diplomats from Kyiv and it will happen on Tuesday," an Israeli official said.

The state of play: In recent days, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has been repeatedly calling on Israeli nationals to leave Ukraine.

  • Forty flights departed Ukraine to Israel in the last ten days, but most were half-full and just 4,000 of the more than 10,000 Israelis in the country have left, according to the Israeli officials.
  • Israel plans to use the diplomatic mission in Lviv to organize the departure of Israeli nationals by land if Russia invades. Israeli has been coordinating with officials in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Moldova and Hungary for such an eventualities, with several Israeli diplomats visiting border crossings.
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