After three months of closure following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the US Embassy in Kyiv reopened Wednesday. Soon before the US flag was raised over the embassy, spokeswoman Daniel Langenkamp told Reuters that it had officially reopened.
In a statement, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that although US Embassy personnel are relocating for safety reasons, this will not stop their engagement and support for the Ukrainian people, government, civil society, allies and partners. “We underscored our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, pledged to continue our assistance, and started working toward the day we could return to Kyiv,” read the statement.
Price said that the Ukrainian people, with the assistance of their security forces, have defended their homeland from the unprovoked aggression of Russia, as a result of which “the Stars and Stripes” are once again flying over the embassy. He mentioned that additional measures have been taken to increase the safety of colleagues returning to Kyiv, and that security measures and protocols have been improved.
“We are committed to confronting the challenges ahead. The war rages on. Russia’s forces inflict death and destruction on Ukrainian soil every day. Millions of Ukrainians are displaced from their homes and mourn the loss of their loved ones. With the strength of purpose, we reaffirm our commitment to the people and government of Ukraine, and we look forward to carrying out our mission from the US Embassy in Kyiv,” read the statement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter, “The Stars and Stripes fly again over Embassy Kyiv. I can announce that we have officially resumed Embassy operations in Ukraine’s capital. We stand proudly with the government and people of Ukraine as they bravely defend their country from Putin’s brutal invasion. Slava Ukraini!”
In the beginning, a small number of diplomats will return to staff the mission. Langenkamp said that consular operations won’t resume immediately, and that the US State Department has issued a ‘no travel’ advisory across Ukraine.
Ten days after the closure of the US Embassy in Ukraine, Russia launched its full-scale invasion. The embassy staff spent the first two months of the war in Poland, but Charge d’Affaires Kristina Kvien returned to the country on May 2 and visited the western city of Lviv. Over the past month, many western countries, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have reopened their embassies in Kyiv after Russian troops pulled back from Ukraine’s north to focus on an offensive in the east.
Meanwhile, the Russian government has said that it is expelling 85 embassy staff from France, Spain and Italy in response to similar moves by those countries, highlighting the damage done to Russian relations with leading EU members since the war in Ukraine. According to the country’s foreign ministry, 34 diplomatic staff will be sent out from France, 27 from Spain, and 24 from Italy.
The Kremlin, on Wednesday, accused Ukrainian authorities of not wanting to continue talks to end the hostilities that began after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into pro-Western Ukraine.
“Talks are indeed not moving forward and we note the complete lack of will of Ukrainian negotiators to continue this process,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
In a recent interview, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the United States, London, and Brussels are trying to use Ukraine to their advantage by hardening Ukraine’s stance and bolstering the Kyiv government. He said that a peace agreement cannot be reached if negotiators try to shift the focus away from the Ukraine emergency to the West’s comments. According to him, this paves the way for no progress in talks.
“We always say that we are ready for negotiations… but we were given no other choice,” Lavrov said.