US Resists Calls to Reopen Embassy in Kyiv

US Resists Calls to Reopen Embassy in Kyiv a view of the u.s. embassy in kyiv A view of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Jan. 24. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 21 April 2022 08:08 AM

The Biden administration is so far balking at calls to reopen the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Politico is reporting.

In a Wednesday report, the news outlet said some U.S. lawmakers, former diplomats, and others are seeking to have the embassy reopen as a sign of Western strength and unity to Russia as the war in Ukraine rages.

The Hill noted that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said in February that the U.S. was "temporarily relocating" the embassy operations from Kyiv to Lviv.

On Feb. 24, the first day of the Russian invasion, the State Department confirmed that U.S. embassy operations in Ukraine had been suspended.

But now some U.S. diplomats are privately saying they want to see an American return to Kyiv.

Slovenia, Italy, and Spain are among the more than dozen nations to have reopened their missions in Kyiv – or have said they intend to, according to Politico.

The news outlet said the issue of when to open the U.S. Embassy is still being debated in the White House. But for now, a decision is on hold.

Despite the fact that the Biden team wants U.S. diplomats to take more risks, there are serious concerns about their safety in Ukraine.

Half the White House "and half of State want to do it," one U.S. official told Politico. Other halves oppose and say too soon."

William Taylor, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said multiple American diplomats assigned to Ukraine have confided to him they are ready to return to Kyiv.

U.S. diplomats are convinced they can better do their jobs in Kyiv, where they have more access to Ukrainians of all backgrounds, including government officials, according to Taylor.

"They listen to, get messages from, hear what the Ukrainians are thinking," Taylor said. "You can't do that from any place other than Kyiv."

Now, some lawmakers from both parties have said Biden should reopen the embassy in Kyiv.

"U.S. embassies have operated in similar environments before, and a renewed U.S. presence in Kyiv is vital to efforts to assist the Ukrainians," Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho said. He also wants Biden to officially nominate an ambassador to Ukraine — a post that has been vacant for years.

GOP Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Steve Daines of Montana wrote a letter to Blinken pushing to reopen the embassy in Kyiv, Politico said.

"With Ukraine's successful defense of Kyiv and Russia's subsequent withdrawal of forces from the areas surrounding the capital, we encourage you to fully open the United States Embassy without delay," they said in the letter.

Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., pointed out that the Biden team "has not even suggested it will return its diplomats to anywhere in the country."

And Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., maintained that the embassy should reopen because Kyiv is "the moral capital of the world and the locus of the most important American foreign policy enterprise in years."