US Closes Embassy in Kyiv, Relocates to Western City: State Department

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
February 14, 2022International
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US Closes Embassy in Kyiv, Relocates to Western City: State Department
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 24, 2022. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

The United States is shutting down its Ukraine embassy in Kyiv amid heightened tensions with Russia, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Feb. 14.

“We are in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces,” Blinken said in a statement, saying that the White House remains engaged with the Ukrainian government and Russian officials to “deescalate this crisis.”

Lviv is about 50 miles from Ukraine’s western border with Poland, which is a NATO and European Union member.

“These prudent precautions in no way undermine our support for or our commitment to Ukraine. Our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering,” Blinken added, noting that “the path for diplomacy” is available.

Over the weekend, Biden administration officials claimed that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine in the near future and possibly before the conclusion of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 20. No details or evidence were provided.

Russian officials told state-run media that allegations that Moscow is plotting to invade in the near future are unfounded and are designed to merely escalate tensions. However, Moscow has amassed more than 100,000 troops and large amounts of heavy military equipment near Ukraine’s borders, including in Belarus.

“We also continue our sincere efforts to reach a diplomatic solution, and we remain engaged with the Russian government following President Biden’s call with President Putin and my discussion with Foreign Minister Lavrov,” Blinken added on Feb. 14.

The secretary of state also called on U.S. citizens in Ukraine to register with the Department of State and urged them to stay aware of any new developments. Previously, the State Department called on Americans to flee Ukraine.

NTD Photo
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) in February 2022 file photos. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images; Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Earlier on Feb. 14, Zelensky created some confusion when he said in a speech that his office was informed by intelligence officials that Feb. 16 “will be the day of the attack” by Russian forces.

“We will make it a union day. The decree has already been signed. This afternoon, we will hang national flags, put on blue-yellow ribbons and show the world our unity,” he stated.

But Zelensky’s office later clarified that his remarks were made ironically, without elaborating.

A top spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, on Feb. 14 assailed recent claims made by the United States and the United Kingdom as propaganda designed to stoke war in the region.

“What we are seeing now is war propaganda in its purest form,” Zakharova wrote on social media, according to Russian state-funded media.

“The U.S. and the UK have pulled out a tool from their stash that they have been keeping for a good half-century. And now they are waving it around like a club, supporting controlled hysteria through CNN, Bloomberg, and British tabloids, thereby influencing public opinion in their countries,” the spokeswoman continued.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, whose country is a regional ally with Moscow, accused the U.S. and the West of trying to “spark a conflict” with recent public statements.

“You know, they are able with other people’s hands. It is better to fight with other people’s hands, other people’s lives: let the Ukrainians, the Russians, the Belarusians die, it’s all far away,” he said on Feb. 14, according to Russian news outlets.

Lukashenko also indicated that Russia and Belarus aren’t planning “any war against Ukraine.” Russia and Belarus held military drills this month near the Ukrainian border.

“Look, if we planned any war against Ukraine, the media would have behaved completely differently. Because the media is the modern war’s bombardments,” he said.

Amid talks between Western powers and Russia, Moscow has demanded that NATO refuse to allow Ukraine to join the security bloc. The White House and NATO have said that demand is a nonstarter.

“We [are] developing a dialogue on some aspects that are of practical importance today, with our Western, primarily American colleagues. We will simultaneously seek their answers to the legitimate questions that we have raised,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told TASS on Feb. 14.

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