Czech Foreign Ministry advises Czechs to leave Ukraine if possible


In view of the escalating threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has withdrawn its diplomats’ families from the country. While the embassy in Kyiv continues to operate for the time being, the ministry has also called on other Czech citizens to leave the country if possible.

The last family members of the diplomats at the Czech Embassy in Kyiv left the country by plane on Sunday evening. They were joined by five employees of the embassy’s consular department, who asked to leave due to safety reasons.

Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Dvořák says that while they still hope that a further escalation of the conflict can be resolved by diplomatic negotiations, the ministry must be prepared for the worst-case scenario, which means an armed conflict.

Martin Dvořák | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

“It is our duty to be prepared to be able to help or provide information to our citizens in Ukraine who may find themselves in danger. That is now our main task, alongside diplomacy, of course.

“At the moment there are more than 20 people staying at the Czech Embassy in Kyiv. The activities of the consular department might be slightly reduced. Otherwise, however, the embassy continues to function just like the embassies of all other European countries, to show some kind of support for Ukraine.”

The Foreign Ministry on Saturday appealed to Czech citizens not to travel to the country if it is not absolutely necessary. One of the reasons is that many international air carriers have already diverted their flights in fear of flying across the country’s airspace and returning by plane may soon be impossible, says Mr Dvořák:

“That is why we are urging Czech citizens to leave Ukraine as soon as possible, if they wish to travel by plane, because the airspace may close as soon as today.

“In the event of an armed conflict, it would be very difficult to dispatch planes there, and then there would be nothing left but the land route.

Ukrainians attend a rally in central Kyiv,  Ukraine,  Feb. 12,  2022,  during a protest against the potential escalation of the tension between Russia and Ukraine | Photo: Efrem Lukatsky,  ČTK/AP

“Of course, we do have evacuation plans for our diplomats. That's part of the agenda of every embassy in the world. But basically we can't do much more for citizens than make recommendations.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also encouraged Czech citizens who can’t leave the country to register with its special information system named DROZD, which is used in the case of such incidents as natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

In case of the eruption of an armed conflict, the ministry has advised Czechs to stay as far away as possible and not to interfere in any way.

At the same time, the Czech government is also getting ready for a possible wave of refugees from Ukraine. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called a meeting of a crisis staff on Monday to discuss further steps with representatives of the interior and defence ministries.