Switzerland advises citizens to leave eastern Ukraine

People gather at a tent camp at the Matveyev Kurgan border checkpoint on Russia-Ukraine border after evacuating from Donetsk. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The foreign ministry has advised Swiss nationals to leave the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine amid concerns over the increase in armed clashes in eastern Ukraine.

This content was published on February 20, 2022 - 11:12

The travel adviceExternal link, which was updated Saturday evening, recommends against tourist and other non-urgent trips to Ukraine and urges Swiss nationals to leave the eastern region temporarily by their own means.

Many commercial airlines have reduced or suspended flights to the country including Swiss International Airlines, which announced on Saturday that it was temporarily halting flights to the country as of Monday, February 21 for at least a week.

The Swiss embassy in Kyiv remains open but if the situation deteriorates, it will have limited options for providing services or assistance in emergencies, writes the foreign ministry.

On Saturday, the ministry expressed concern about an increase in armed hostilities in eastern Ukraine in a tweet: "We call on all sides to recommit to the ceasefire and actively contribute to de-escalation." This includes a substantial withdrawal of Russian forces from near Ukraine's borders, it said.

“Constructive dialogue is vital and Switzerland is ready to support it,” wrote the ministry.

Russian troop deployment in the border region with Ukraine has heightened fears of a Russian invasion. On Sunday, there were reports of multiple explosions in the centre of the separatist-held city of Donetsk. Incidents of shelling across the line dividing Ukrainian government forces and separatists increased sharply last week. Two Ukrainian soldiers were reported killed and four wounded on Saturday.

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