Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signs the contract for the acquisition of 32 additional S-70i Black Hawk helicopters from Poland-based Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary PZL Mielec — to beef up the current fleet of 12 units of the Philippine Air Force. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Feb 23 (Mabuhay) — Amid the tension between Russia and Ukraine, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Wednesday said the agency is already prioritizing the safety and welfare of Filipinos in Ukraine.

According to Locsin, the DFA is already arranging the repatriation of Filipinos who want to go back to the Philippines due to the imminent security crisis in Ukraine.

“Our chief and singular concern is to take out of harm’s way our fellow Filipinos in Ukraine and bringing them to the nearest places of safety by the fastest possible way,” Locsin said.

“Our offer to take Filipinos in Kiev is underway and Usec Sarah Arriola is spearheading the repatriation effort for Filipinos who want to come home,” he added.

According to a Reuters report, Russian President Vladimir Putin already ordered the deployment of troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.

The report said Putin has been working to restore Russia’s influence over nations that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with Ukraine holding an important place in his ambitions.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has announced the first sanctions against Russia for what he called “Moscow’s beginning of an invasion of Ukraine.”

Biden vowed for steeper punishments against Russia if it continues its aggression.

The European Union, Canada and Britain also announced sanctions against Russia. (MNS)

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