By David Lawder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Bank is temporarily relocating staff from Ukraine and has suspended staff missions to the country due to the tensions on the border with Russia, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters on Monday.
The World Bank said it was closely monitoring the situation at the border, where Russia has massed a huge force within striking distance of Ukraine, and its operations were continuing in Ukraine.
“The World Bank Group’s foremost priority is to keep our staff and their families safe. In line with our evacuation policy, temporary relocation of staff is under way and enhanced security measures are in place,” the memo said.
The memo did not provide details on where or how many staff were being relocated.
On Saturday, the U.S. State Department said it was ordering most staff at its embassy in Kyiv to leave Ukraine immediately due to the threat of a Russian invasion. Some embassy staff will work from the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, U.S. officials said.
A spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund, which maintains a $5 billion loan program for Ukraine, could not immediately be reached for comment regarding the lender’s staffing in the country.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, the World Bank has provided nearly $1.3 billion in financing to Ukraine.
In September, it signed two loan agreements for Ukraine worth a combined $441 million, with the funds aimed at improving the integration of its power grids with Europe, and to boost its education sector..
In December, the World Bank approved an emergency $150 million COVID-19 pandemic response and vaccination project loan, as well as a second 300 million-euro ($340 million) development policy loan.
An initial $350 million Ukraine development policy loan, aimed at protecting the most vulnerable from the pandemic and fostering economic recovery, was approved in June 2020.
Russia suggested on Monday that it was ready to keep talking to the West to try to defuse the security crisis, while a Ukrainian official said Kyiv was prepared to make concessions to Moscow.
World Bank temporarily relocates staff from Ukraine – internal memo
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