British nationals in Ukraine urged to 'leave now' over fears of Russian invasion

ITV Correspondent Dan Rivers spoke to an American expat in Kyiv, who explained why he doesn't want to leave Ukraine despite the threat of Russia

British nationals have been urged by the Foreign Office to leave Ukraine immediately “while commercial means are still available”.

The Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening and a spokesperson said: “The safety and security of British nationals is our top priority, which is why we have updated our travel advice.

“We urge British nationals in Ukraine to leave now via commercial means while they remain available.”

Earlier on Friday, US President Joe Biden repeated his warning to Americans in Ukraine to leave as soon as possible amid fears of a Russian invasion.

Where Russian troops are massed across the Ukraine border

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday told world leaders including US President Joe Biden he fears for the security of Europe.

After a call with the leaders, a No 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister told the group that he feared for the security of Europe in the current circumstances.

“He impressed the need for Nato allies to make it absolutely clear that there will be a heavy package of economic sanctions ready to go, should Russia make the devastating and destructive decision to invade Ukraine.

“The Prime Minister added that President Putin had to understand that there would be severe penalties that would be extremely damaging to Russia’s economy, and that Allies needed to continue with efforts to reinforce and support the Eastern frontiers of Nato.

“He urged the leaders to work together to deliver economic and defensive support to Ukraine.

“The leaders agreed that if President Putin deescalated, there was another way forward, and they pledged to redouble diplomatic efforts in the coming days.”

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French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg, as well as EU leaders Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel were also in the call.

On the same day, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace held talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.

He said relations between the UK and Russia are now “above zero”, but said he is not as optimistic as he used to be about quelling the crisis on the Ukrainian border.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (left) walking with his counterpart Defence Minister of the Russian Federation, Sergei Shoigu. Credit: Tim Hammond/MoD

He told a press conference in Moscow: “I think the direction of travel has been against the direction of the diplomatic travel over the last few weeks.

“We’ve seen continued build-up of forces as we’ve seen a build up of diplomacy, and you would hope that, actually… one goes up, one goes down – and I think that is why my optimism is not as (optimistic) as I used to be, or can be.

“And I’m hoping that the beginning today is an effort to try and see if there is a way forward to make sure we do de-escalate.

“We’ll keep trying. I think the international community is trying very hard – obviously President Macron’s visit, Prime Minister Johnson spoke to President Putin… recently as well. And indeed, I think the new Chancellor of Germany is coming to visit next week.

“I think it is very important that we give the Russian government, give them all a chance to provide the reassurance they are seeking about the intentions of Nato, but also to give us the airtime to hear from them their assurances that they have no intention of invading Ukraine as well.”