On Saturday, January 22, CNN reported that US Embassy Kyiv requested that the State Department authorize the departure of all nonessential staff and their families, citing “multiple sources familiar with the matter.” Note that “non-emergency” staff is the preferred term, actually.
CNN also reported in early December that the US was working on contingency planning to evacuate Americans from Ukraine, as Russia has continued to mass troops near the border and spark fears of a renewed invasion.
A side note here, this contingency planning is not unique to Ukraine, of course. See here:
Every Foreign Service post is required to have an operative Emergency Action Plan (EAP) with procedures in place to respond to emergencies such as natural disaster, civil unrest, a pandemic or mass casualties. The post EAP is a living document, updated on a continuous basis, and comprehensively reviewed once a year. Diplomatic missions are also required to run mock emergency training drills (usually, an intense two day session every two years) to test their capabilities and the relevance of their EAPs.
On Sunday, January 23, 2022, the State Department issued a Level 4-Do Not Travel Advisory for Ukraine “due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19.”
The Travel Advisory also announced that the Department authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees (USDH) and ordered the departure of eligible family members (EFM) from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action.
Additionally, the advisory urged U.S. citizens in Ukraine to “consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options.”
The State Department has called the developments in Ukraine a crisis and has set up phone lines dedicated to Ukraine-related calls:”
For Ukraine related calls, please dial 1-833-741-2777 (toll free U.S. and Canada) or +1-606-260-4379 (overseas).
All other calls, please dial 1-888-407-4747 (toll free U.S. and Canada) or +1-202-501-4444 (overseas).
On Monday, January 24, the US Embassy Kyiv issued a statement announcing the Authorized Departure of U.S. Government Employees and Ordered Departure for Eligible Family Members.
On January 24, the U.S. Department of State authorized the voluntary departure (“authorized departure”) of U.S. government employees and ordered the departure of family members (“ordered departure”) of U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, effective immediately.
Authorized departure gives these employees the option to depart if they wish; their departure is not required. Ordered departure for family members requires that family members leave the country. The U.S. Embassy’s departure status will be reviewed in no later than 30 days.
The Department of State made the decision to authorize departure from Mission Ukraine out of an abundance of caution due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine. We have been in consultation with the Ukrainian government about this step and are coordinating with Allied and partner embassies in Kyiv as they determine their posture.
Additionally, the State Department has elevated our previous Travel Advisory for Ukraine to Level Four – Do Not Travel due to the increased threats of significant Russian military action against Ukraine. The Travel Advisory was already at Level Four – Do Not Travel due to COVID-19.
With respect to U.S. citizens in Ukraine, our primary role is to keep the U.S. citizen community informed of safety and security developments, which could include information on commercial travel options.
Our Embassy in Kyiv is prepared to meet an immediate uptick in demand for consular services. Over the last several months, the Embassy has prioritized the processing of U.S. passports and immigrant visas, including adoption cases. As always, we will prioritize support for U.S. citizens in emergency situations and are working to ensure our continued capacity to do so.
Read in full here.
No nominee has been announced for the US Ambassadorship in Kyiv as of this writing. The most recent Senate confirmed ambassador was Marie Yovanovitch who was recalled in May 20, 2019 after a vicious smear campaign by Trump allies.
Embassy Kyiv is currently headed by Kristina Kvien as Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.. She was previously appointed CDA from May-June 2019. CDA Kvien’s deputy is Alan Purcell who became Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine in May 2021. He previously served in Ukraine as Political Counselor.
The Department of State made the decision to authorize departure from Mission Ukraine out of an abundance of caution due to continued Russian efforts to destabilize the country and undermine the security of Ukrainian citizens and others visiting or residing in Ukraine.
— U.S. Embassy Kyiv (@USEmbassyKyiv) January 24, 2022
CNN reported Friday that the embassy had requested that the State Department authorize this departure as Russia has continued to mass forces and equipment near Ukraine’s borders, sparking fears of a renewed invasion. https://t.co/YkQExuwcjz
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 23, 2022
US State Dept. is ordering family members of American employees at US Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, to leave the country. Some diplomats have been authorized to depart. Russia has 100,000 troops on the border. A tense week ahead. w/ @ktbenner @jakesNYT. https://t.co/O0IRmOfeL0
— Edward Wong (@ewong) January 24, 2022
President Biden is considering deploying several thousand U.S. troops, as well as warships and aircraft, to NATO allies in the Baltics and Eastern Europe amid fears of a Russian incursion into Ukraine. https://t.co/uQrFEaz9zX
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 24, 2022