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KYIV: Ukraine urged its citizens on Saturday to keep calm and avoid panicking in the face of mounting worries that Russia is preparing to invade its neighbour.

The appeal came a day after the United States and a host of European countries urged their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately because of the growing danger of a full-scale offensive by Russian forces encircling the former Soviet state.

“At the moment, it is critically important to remain calm, to consolidate inside the country, to avoid destabilising actions and those that sow panic,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Washington dramatically raised the stakes on Friday by warning that Russia could attack “any day now”.

Some US media suggested the invasion could begin shortly after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz concludes talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday.

Kyiv has been trying to tone down the warnings coming out of Washington throughout the crisis.

The Ukrainian government fears the US statements are hurting public morale and damaging the country’s struggling economy by crimping business activity.

“The armed force of Ukraine are constantly monitoring the situation and are ready to rebuff any encroachment on its territorial integrity and sovereignty,” the foreign ministry said.

“Ukrainian diplomats are in constant contact with all its key partners, swiftly receiving the information needed to prepare a well-timed response.”

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