The United States embassy in Kyiv reopened on Wednesday after closing in February. The decision comes after Russian soldiers withdrew from the Ukrainian capital city to focus on a new objective of “liberating” the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. It also suggests that Ukraine is returning to some degree of normalcy, even as the war continues to rage in the east.
“When we suspended operations at the embassy, we made the point clear: while we would relocate U.S. embassy personnel for their safety and security, this would in no way prevent our engagement with, and support for, the Ukrainian people, government, and civil society as well as our allies and partners,” Blinken said.
The number of diplomats working in the embassy is expected to gradually increase over time, as will the services made available at the embassy. While Russian troops have largely withdrawn to the eastern regions of Ukraine, the situation in Ukraine is still dangerous.
Sources familiar with the reopening told Politico that the security situation in Ukraine will dictate the pace of the reopening.
Underscoring the severity of the situation in Ukraine, the opening ceremony on Wednesday was delayed by an hour because of an air raid siren.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken also confirmed that a number of security measures have been put in place to protect Americans who will return to Kyiv. Sources familiar with the situation said that the embassy compound is not being protected by U.S. Marines, but by members of the Ukrainian national guard and police forces.
If the United States were to put American boots on the ground in Ukraine, even just to protect the U.S. embassy, it could be interpreted as an escalation by the Kremlin.
Is Kyiv Safe?
Even after Russian troops withdrew to the east of Ukraine, Kyiv is still a target for the Russian military. Less than one month ago, United Nations chief Antonio Guterres described his shock at the proximity of Russian strikes while he held discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian president claimed that the Russian strikes that took place in central Kyiv in late April were designed to “humiliate” the United Nations.
“Today, immediately after the end of our talks in Kyiv, Russian missiles flew into the city. Five rockets. And this says a lot … about the Russian leadership’s efforts to humiliate the UN and everything that the organization represents,” Zelenskyy said at the time.
A spokesperson for Guterres said that the team was “shocked” at the proximity.
While Russian troop presence has dramatically reduced in central and western Kyiv over the last month, there is no telling when the next strike on the nation’s capital city will occur.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.