MFAT urges Kiwis in Ukraine to come home if possible

Source: 1News / Associated Press

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) is urging New Zealanders who don't need to be in Ukraine to leave if they can do so safely.

"New Zealand’s current travel advice is that, given the risk of the security situation in Ukraine changing at short notice, New Zealanders whose presence there is not essential should consider leaving by commercial means if it is safe to do so," an MFAT spokesperson told 1News.

"We encourage all New Zealanders in Ukraine to ensure that travel documents are in order and that they are registered on SafeTravel so they can be contacted in an emergency."

As of Tuesday, 30 New Zealanders were registered with SafeTravel as being in Ukraine.

"A small number of New Zealanders in Ukraine have contacted Consular Officials seeking advice about the current situation.

"New Zealand is in close contact with consular partners regarding contingency planning should the situation in Ukraine escalate," the spokesperson said.

It comes as world leaders are trying to walk a diplomatic tightrope that could mean the difference between war in Ukraine and an uneasy peace.

Meanwhile, Russia's menacing actions on the border of its neighbour continue unabated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is back at the Kremlin following his diplomatic foray to get support from China. Putin hosted Tuesday's prime meeting of the day as French President Emmanuel Macron sought to de-escalate tensions.

In Washington, US President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to shore up Western resolve against what they see as Russian aggression. Germany and Britain, meanwhile, added to efforts to reinforce NATO's eastern border, sending troops to Lithuania and Poland.

Yet, AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee says the situation remains at a standstill.

"I'm not sure that what happened today in either Washington or in Moscow really advanced things to a point where we can say that the situation is any is demonstrably different than it was a day or a week or even a month ago," Lee said.

Read more: Top Biden aide says Ukraine invasion could come 'any day'

Biden already has deployed additional US troops to Poland, Romania, and Germany.

A few dozen elite US troops and equipment landed Sunday in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine, with hundreds more infantry troops of the 82nd Airborne Division set to arrive.

Britain said it was sending 350 troops to Poland to bolster NATO forces, joining 100 Royal Engineers already there.

Lee said so far it's "it's hard to see how this how this ends without some kind of military action, if in fact, that's what President Putin has decided that that's the route that he's decided to take".

Russia denied any plans to attack its neighbour but demanded that the US and its allies bar Ukraine and other former Soviet nations from joining NATO, halt weapons deployments there, and roll back NATO forces from Eastern Europe.

Washington and NATO reject those demands.