Italy’s embassy in Kiev has advised its citizens to leave Ukraine immediately, citing “increasingly heavy missile attacks” from Russia in a message posted to the Viaggiare Sicuri website, which is operated by the Crisis Unit of the Farnesina (foreign ministry).
“Compatriots still in Ukraine are strongly advised to use the means still available, including trains, to leave the country immediately, at times when the curfew is not in force,” the message declared, warning that missile attacks have been recorded both “in Kiev and throughout Ukraine.”
“Extreme caution is advised. All travel to Ukraine, in any capacity, is strongly discouraged,” it added.
Italy recalled its non-essential staff from the Ukrainian embassy last year when Russia began its military operation, pointedly urging its citizens to avoid the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and Crimea.
Donetsk and Lugansk have since been incorporated into Russia following referendums, while Crimea voted to become part of the country in 2014.
Ukraine reported several Russian drone and missile attacks early Monday morning, claiming it shot down 35 kamikaze drones over Kiev, while Russian Air Force bombers reportedly launched eight missiles in the direction of Odessa Region. Explosions in Chernigov and Dnepropetrovsk Regions – as well as the city of Zaporozhye – have also been reported.
While Ukraine prepares to launch a much-touted counteroffensive, its allies are reportedly concerned about Russian retaliation for attacks on Crimea, with some Western politicians reportedly suggesting Kiev leave the peninsula alone. Ukrainian drones have reportedly struck several targets there in the last week.
<p>In an interview, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace says the alliance must press its members to spend more on defense if Russia is to be contained</p>