(Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

Long lines of cars in Kyiv heading out of Ukrainian capital

The Chinese embassy in Ukraine released a warning for its citizens in the country early Thursday, urging them to place the Chinese flag on their vehicles for safety.

“The situation in Ukraine has deteriorated dramatically. There have been bombings in multiple cities, and the military operations are under way,” said the statement from the embassy. It urged citizens to stay home and away from windows or glass, warning “serious riots” may happen on the streets.

It added that if Chinese nationals are driving on the roads, “the Chinese national flag can be affixed to the visible part of the car body.”

It also asked Chinese nationals to pay close attention to the situation, stay in contact with overseas Chinese organizations, and to “extend a helping hand to each other to reflect the image of the Chinese people and the strength of China.”

A tricky spot for China: China has found itself in an uncomfortable position during the ongoing crisis; China and Russia have have presented an increasingly united front in the face of what they view as Western interference into their domestic affairs and threats to their security. That partnership was very publicly bolstered only weeks ago at a Xi-Putin summit.

Zhang Jun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, called for all parties to “stay cool headed and rational” on Wednesday night, saying “a peaceful solution” was still possible — even as the Ukrainian ambassador declared it was “too late” for de-escalation given Russia’s attacks.