Ukraine decides to keep airspace open despite possibility of Russian invasion and some airlines cancelling flights to capital Kiev.

Moscow recalls some of its diplomatic staff from Ukraine, saying it fears
Moscow recalls some of its diplomatic staff from Ukraine, saying it fears "provocations". (AFP)

Fearing an invasion of Ukraine by Russia within a few days, many countries are urging their citizens there to leave and are cutting back their diplomatic staff.

Among the countries that have called on their nationals to leave Ukraine are the United States, Germany, Italy, Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Canada, Norway, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Australia, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

France advised against travel to border areas of northern and eastern Ukraine but has not told its citizens to leave the country.

Romania, which borders Ukraine, has strongly recommended its nationals avoid travel to the country and to "re-evaluate the need to stay" if already there.

READ MORE:Biden: US citizens should leave Ukraine immediately

Diplomats pulled back

Moscow has recalled some of its diplomatic staff, saying it fears "provocations".

The United States ordered the departure of most of its diplomatic staff in Kiev, saying a Russian offensive could begin "any day now". Washington will maintain a consular presence in the western city of Lviv.

Canada is closing its embassy in Kiev temporarily, moving diplomatic operations to Lviv, as is Australia.

European Union bodies recommended non-essential diplomatic personnel in Kiev leave the country and telecommute from abroad.

Romania has withdrawn non-essential personnel from its embassy in Kiev, and Israel has evacuated the families of embassy diplomats and staff.

The Dutch airline KLM announced on Saturday that it was suspending its flights to Ukraine until further notice.

READ MORE: US asks diplomats' families to depart Ukraine over Russia threats

Ukraine to keep airspace open 

But the Ukrainian infrastructure ministry said on Sunday the country would leave its airspace open despite the possibility of a Russian invasion.

US national security advisor Jake Sullivan issued a grim assessment that an invasion that could begin "any day now" would likely start with "a significant barrage of missiles and bomb attacks".

Western leaders are pushing back against Russia's demands that the US-led NATO alliance withdraw from eastern Europe and never expand into Ukraine.

But Moscow has dismissed calls by Biden and others to pull back Russian forces from Ukraine's frontiers.

Washington has warned that the Russian deployments –– estimated at 130,000 soldiers backed by various missiles and tanks –– was sufficient to launch a major attack "any day".

READ MORE: US: Russia troop presence near Ukraine border tops 130,000

Source: AFP