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Government urges Greeks to leave Ukraine

Amid fears in the West that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent, Greeks were urged to leave the country on Monday while Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis chaired a meeting to discuss the impact it could have on the economy and possible scenarios for ensuring the security and continuous supply of natural gas to Greece.

The stakes are not only high for Greece, as the TAP pipeline is considered important for maintaining increased flows from Azerbaijan through Turkey.

With this in mind, the option of increasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports by sea remains on the table.

At the same time, after a separate meeting held under the auspices of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, the government also urged Greek citizens in Ukraine to leave the country, as well as those who plan to visit it to reconsider their plans for the near future. The meeting was also attended by the ministers of national defense, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, and education, Niki Kerameus. Teachers working in the local Greek schools have already left for Greece. 

For their part, the armed forces are not currently involved in the crisis, nor are they expected to be activated. 

On the diplomatic level, it was also decided that the Greek Embassy in Kiev will remain staffed to handle the affairs of the Greeks remaining in Ukraine, as well as to strengthen the consulate in Mariupol.

Athens insisted Monday that there was no connection between the government’s call for the departure of Greek citizens from Ukraine and the killing of two expatriates in the village of Granitna near the “line of contact” with pro-Russian separatist forces in the east of the country.

More specifically, two Greeks were killed and another two seriously injured in an incident involving Ukrainian soldiers.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said that three Ukrainian soldiers were “responsible” for the incident.

The ministry said the incident took place after an argument over an “insignificant matter.” Dendias talked on the phone on Monday with his Ukraine counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, stressing the need to protect diaspora Greeks in the area.

Dendias will head to Moscow on Friday to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.