Ukrainian staff at US Embassy left behind, promises backtracked
Staff at the US Embassy in Ukraine have said some US officials seem to have given up on Ukraine.
Local Ukrainian personnel at the United States Embassy in Kiev are begging the US administration for assistance and accusing State Department officials of breaking promises of assistance as they try to flee from Ukraine amid the ongoing Russian military operation.
On March 11, a group of Ukrainian employees of the US Embassy in Kiev sent a letter to State Department management, raising concerns about a "change in tone and open denial of prior promises" by State Department officials in Washington after the Ukrainian employees requested financial assistance, help with safely evacuating their families, and possible visa avenues to the US.
The State Department had previously promised to financially support the employees, in case they had to flee the capital.
Foreign Policy acquired the letter, which detailed the leaders of the embassy staff and some 600 Ukrainians who work for the US.
“While we realize that some questions may not have specific answers at the moment, for us, the lack of consistency and ability to at least have one part of our lives secured, is really frightening,” the letter stated.
It added that “those of you in regular contact with [locally employed] Staff know first-hand what we are going through: our families are separated, many shelter in basements to stay alive, some fighting in the battlefields, others displaced, children are showing signs of stress from the trauma they have experienced and falling behind schooling and care, and none of us able to sleep through the night for 20 days."
The US also told employees that they should seek refugee status from European countries, rather than from the US.
“Amidst all this, receiving a coldhearted message from the [State Department] official about the need to apply for protected status or register as refugees to rely on assistance in European countries was yet another blow. Needless to say that the refugee status has certain downsides which obviously have not been researched by the speaker in advance.”
According to the authors of the letter, a US official had expressed doubt regarding whether the Embassy would return to what it had before the operation. According to the official, "The U.S. Embassy work will never be the same as in December 2021."
The letter reads that "it is really painful and hard to comprehend. It looks as if some officials have already given up on Ukraine. Can you imagine how this sounds to our colleagues who are now at the front line and defend our country in this war?”
According to Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the State Department has made significant headway in recent weeks in providing financial support to local embassy workers in Ukraine, but much more needs to be done.
Rubin warned that the main concern is future employees would not want to work for the US again if they saw that the US was not doing everything it could to help. He asked why staff members were not helped when "dozens of abandoned embassy vehicles with full gas tanks" are left in the courtyard.
Some diplomats have argued that the State Department seems to have abandoned longtime employees. What is worse is that a former marine officer started a Gofundme campaign for the Ukrainian members of the Embassy and their families.
One US diplomat asked how the US could not have had any contingency plan when "you’re going around all of Europe saying this invasion is going to happen months in advance?”
Not only did the US hysterically warn of an "invasion" by Russia, but declassified accounting of transfers and sales examined by The Washington Post exposed the United States' significant increased its supply of lethal military aid to Ukraine as the potential of an escalation with Russia drew closer.
According to the list, the Pentagon began arming Ukrainians with weapons and equipment suited for combat in urban areas as early as December, including shotguns and specialist suits to protect soldiers handling explosive munitions.
The diplomat continued, "The State Department never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity to do the right thing.”
The blunders of the US Department of State in Ukraine seem to mirror the failures of Afghanistan wherein the US abandoned embassy staff during its disastrous withdrawal from the country.
Rubin stated that “in a life-or-death situation, what do we do for our local employees? Clearly, that has not been thought out sufficiently.”
Zelensky: Ukraine ended up defending itself on its own
Dreams of joining the NATO alliance and joint defense guarantees against the impending "Russian invasion" seemed to evaporate into the air as soon as Moscow launched its special military operation in Donbass.
Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky released a video addressing Ukraine, saying, "We ended up defending our country alone. Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone."
He said there was no willingness to guarantee that Ukraine will become a NATO member.
"Everyone is afraid, everyone is silent," he said. "They replied that ... they are with us, but are not ready to make us members of the alliance."