US sending diplomats back to Ukraine, looking to reopen embassy
The Biden administration intends to return its diplomats to Ukraine in the coming days, with the goal of reopening its embassy in Kyiv over the next few weeks.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited the capital city of Kyiv over the weekend, making them the highest-ranking U.S. officials to travel to the country since Russia launched its invasion two months ago.
American diplomats fled across the border as the Russian military moved in and surrounded Kyiv, but Blinken told reporters that those officials would soon be returning.
“We will have American diplomats back in Ukraine starting next week,” Blinken told reporters. “They’ll then start the process of looking at how we actually reopen the embassy itself in Kyiv.”
“I think that will take place over a couple of weeks, would be my expectation. We’re doing it deliberately, we’re doing it carefully, we’re doing it with the security of our personnel foremost in mind, but we’re doing it.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a readout of the visit by Blinken and Austin that the increased U.S. presence “demonstrates our support for Ukraine and is part of the U.S. commitment to return our diplomats to our Embassy in Kyiv as soon as possible.”
“This action will strengthen the Department’s ongoing commitment to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts and the delivery of assistance to the Government of Ukraine, while providing enhanced support to U.S. citizens,” Price said.
The announcements come after some lawmakers, Republicans in particular, had pushed for Biden to restore the U.S. diplomatic presence in Ukraine. Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), wrote to Biden last week urging him to bring diplomats back to Ukraine after the two lawmakers visited the country.
As the State Department prepares to return its presence to Kyiv, President Biden on Monday morning announced that he would nominate Bridget Brink, the current U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Brink is a career foreign service officer who has spent much of her career focused on Europe and Eurasia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged allies to bring their diplomatic presence back to Kyiv and has encouraged foreign leaders to visit the country as a show of support in the face of Russian aggression.