USG to Allow Certain Persons From Ukraine to Travel to US Without Pre-Departure COVID-19 Tests

On February 14, the United States announced the temporary relocation of US Embassy operations from Kyiv to Lviv. (U.S. Shuts Down Embassy Kyiv, “Temporarily Relocating” Operations to Lviv). 
According to a CDC announcement, on February 15, 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security determined that it is in the national interest to permit the entry of noncitizen nonimmigrants who (1) are traveling with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; (2) were physically present in Ukraine as of February 10, 2022; and (3) possess valid travel documents allowing them to travel to the United States. Covered persons will not be required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding their flights to the United States. All travelers are still required to “properly wear well-fitting masks during the flight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that, based on a request from the U.S. Department of State and consistent with the determination made by the Secretary of Homeland Security, it will exercise its enforcement discretion regarding certain aspects of its “Amended Order: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test Result or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Airline Passengers Arriving into the United States,” and its Amended Order Implementing Presidential Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic pdf icon[PDF – 52 pages],” effective immediately. This exercise of enforcement discretion is limited to the following groups of individuals, to the extent they were physically present in Ukraine as of February 10, 2022: U.S. citizens; lawful permanent residents; noncitizens in possession of a valid U.S. immigrant visa; as well as noncitizen nonimmigrants who are traveling with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and possess valid travel documents allowing them to travel to the United States (collectively, “covered persons”). This exercise of enforcement discretion will enter into effect immediately and expire on March 1, 2022, at 2359 ET, subject to any further extensions.

Pursuant to this exercise of enforcement discretion, covered persons will not be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding a flight to the United States or to complete the attestation at Section 1 of the Combined Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America pdf icon[PDF – 7 pages] form.

CDC requests that all air carriers cooperate in this exercise of enforcement discretion. Noncitizen nonimmigrants must continue to complete Section 2 of the Combined Passenger Disclosure and Attestation to the United States of America pdf icon[PDF – 7 pages] form attesting to either being fully vaccinated and providing proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or, if traveling pursuant to an exception, including a national interest exception, that they have made arrangements to receive a COVID-19 test within three to five days of arrival in the United States, to self-quarantine for seven days, to self-isolate in the event of a positive COVID-19 test or the development of COVID-19 symptoms, and to become fully vaccinated for COVID-19 within 60 days of arrival in the United States if intending to stay in the United States for more than 60 days.

All travelers are also required to properly wear a well-fitting mask to keep the nose and mouth covered during the flight, including on public transportation and in airports and other transportation hubs. Travelers may further be subject to additional public health measures as may be required by State and local health authorities at their arrival location in the United States.

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New US Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper Presents Credentials in Hanoi

 

 

 

New US Ambassador Scott Miller Presents Credentials in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

 

 

New US Ambassador Thomas Barrett Presents Credentials in Luxembourg

 

 

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Congress Requests Review of Mental Health Resources Available to @StateDept and @USAID Personnel Overseas

 

In early February, Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a review whether the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are providing adequate mental health services and resources to department and agency employees who live and work outside of the United States.
Chairs Meeks, Maloney, Lynch wrote:
We are concerned that State Department and USAID employees experiencing mental health challenges may not be able to access mental health care services while serving abroad, or may refrain from seeking assistance if they are worried that disclosing personal mental health information will adversely affect their diplomatic careers or ability to hold a security clearance.
It is critical that the State Department and USAID recognize and take steps to address the mental health challenges of their personnel serving abroad. To that end, we request that GAO initiate a review that evaluates the following:
1. What policies, programs, and initiatives do the State Department and USAID have in place to identify, detect, and monitor mental health risks and conditions among Civil and Foreign Service employees serving abroad?
2. To what extent do the State Department and USAID take clinical and non-clinical mental health conditions, either disclosed by an employee or identified by a mental health care provider, into consideration when assigning them to work at an
overseas post?

3. What stress management and mental health services do the State Department and USAID provide to employees serving at overseas posts?
4. What challenges or obstacles to accessing mental health resources and services have been identified by State Department and USAID employees serving at overseas posts?

The three Chairs also requested that GAO include “recommendations, as appropriate, for agency or congressional action” in their evaluation.
The letter to the GAO requesting the review is available to read here.

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A Small Post in Africa Just Fired “Several Dozen Male Employees”

We received the following in our inbox recently:

The Embassy held a town hall and finally disclosed that several dozen male employees had been separated from employment.

Charges included:

— improper used of government computers

— immoral conduct for posting obscene images and videos to a social media chat group

Criminal investigation is ongoing.

TDY staff have been flown in from other AF posts, NEA and Washington DC.

Outgoing ambassador departs soon; incoming ambassador to arrive in February.

Most of the job vacancies should be listed on the Embassy website in the coming weeks.

So this is a small post.  Since most jobs are expected to be advertised on the embassy website, we can assume that those separated from employment were locally hired staffers. “Several” means more than two and fewer than many.
Let’s say we have about a hundred employees at this post, with half of those male. Several dozens, say three dozens would be 36 employees. If four dozens, that would be the entire male population, half of the locally hired staff, wouldn’t it?
How would embassies ever find out what shenanigans are going on in their computer systems?
Information Systems Security Officers (ISSO) are responsible for implementing the Department’s information systems security program and for working closely with system managers on compliance with information systems security standards. The Bureau of Information Resource Management’s Office of ISSO Oversight, Regional, and Domestic Division, assists, supports, and coordinates the activities of domestic and overseas ISSOs.
In 2017, OIG inspection reports have repeatedly found deficiencies in the performance of ISSO duties. The Management Assistance Report then notes the following:

OIG reviewed information management findings in reports of overseas inspections conducted from fall FY 2014 to spring FY 2016 and found that 33 percent (17 out of 51) reported findings on the non-performance of ISSO duties. Specifically, the reports noted that information management personnel failed to perform regular reviews and analyses of information systems audits logs, user libraries, emails, workstations, servers, and hard drives for indications of inappropriate or unusual activity in accordance with Department standards.

But what if this post was previously:
— informed in 2019 that its unclassified and classified Information Systems Security Officers (ISSO) did not perform all information systems security duties, such as review and analysis of information systems audit logs for inappropriate or unusual activity, as required by 12 FAM 613.4?
— informed that its ISSOs did not brief new employees on their information security responsibilities and the Department’s policies? OIG notes that ISSO briefings are particularly important for LE staff who have never worked for the U.S. Government.
— informed that its ISSOs did not use the Department’s ISSO resources, such as standard operating procedures and checklists, to prioritize and plan their duties?
— made aware that a lack of planning and training as well as competing priorities led the embassy to neglect these duties and this has resulted in the security of the Department’s computer systems at risk?
Who should then be held accountable for this incident?
Or.
Perhaps, it took the embassy this long to finally conduct a systems audit logs and other systems security duties as required, and that’s how they found out about these obscene images?
Who should get an award?
Makes one wonder about that 17 posts who were reported for non-performance of ISSO duties.
What might they find there when they finally do perform those duties?

 

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U.S. Shuts Down Embassy Kyiv, “Temporarily Relocating” Operations to Lviv

Secretary of State Blinken on US Embassy Kyiv Operations /February 14, 2022 via state.gov:

“I have no higher priority than the safety and security of Americans around the world, and that, of course, includes our colleagues serving at our posts overseas. My team and I constantly review the security situation to determine when prudence dictates a change in posture. With that in mind, 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. The Embassy will remain engaged with the Ukrainian government, coordinating diplomatic engagement in Ukraine.  We are also continuing our intensive diplomatic efforts to deescalate the crisis.

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. 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. The path for diplomacy remains available if Russia chooses to engage in good faith. We look forward to returning our staff to the Embassy as soon as conditions permit.

In the meantime, I have ordered these measures for one reason — the safety of our staff — and we strongly urge any remaining U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately. U.S. citizens seeking emergency assistance in Ukraine should complete this online form, and the State Department will follow-up, as appropriate.”

WSJ reports that the State Department “ordered the destruction of networking equipment and computer workstations and the dismantling of the embassy telephone system” citing  U.S. officials familiar with the matter and internal communications reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.  “Those moves render the Kyiv embassy inoperable as a diplomatic facility.”
Remember that photo we posted about the closure of US Embassy Tripoli as they prepared to evacuate post in 2011? (see Photo of the Day: Sledgehammer Workout, No Joke). That’s that.
The Regional Security Officer and two Assistant Regional Security Officers destroy electronics at U.S. Embassy Tripoli on February 24, 2011 as they prepare to evacuate the post. (Photo from Diplomatic Security 2011 Year in Review)

The Regional Security Officer and two Assistant Regional Security Officers destroy electronics at U.S. Embassy Tripoli on February 24, 2011 as they prepare to evacuate the post. (Photo from Diplomatic Security 2011 Year in Review)

U.S. Embassy Kyiv Suspends Consular Services, Maintains Consular Presence in Lviv

 

On February 12, the State Department ordered the mandatory evacuation of “most U.S. direct hire employees from the US Embassy in Kyiv. Also on February 12, US Embassy Kyiv announced that U.S. citizens may enter Poland through the land border with Ukraine:

“Poland has indicated to the U.S. government that U.S. citizens may now enter Poland through the land border with Ukraine.  No advanced approval is required.  We encourage those traveling into Poland by land from Ukraine to cross at the Korczowa-Krakovets or Medyka-Shehyni border crossings.  U.S. citizens must present a valid U.S. passport and proof of COVID-19 vaccination.  Travelers are also encouraged to present a negative test result from a PCR or antigen COVID-19 test, which will facilitate entry into Poland.”

On February 13, the State Department suspended consular services in Kyiv. The Level 4/Do Not Travel advisory for Ukraine notes that the Embassy Kyiv “will maintain a small consular presence in Lviv, Ukraine to handle emergencies” but no passport, visa or routine services will be provided.

Do not travel to Ukraine due to the increased threats of Russian military action and COVID-19; those in Ukraine should depart immediately via commercial or private means. If remaining in Ukraine, exercise increased caution due to crime, civil unrest, and potential combat operations should Russia take military action. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

On February 12, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of most U.S. direct hire employees from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. U.S. citizens should not travel to Ukraine, and those in Ukraine should depart immediately using commercial or other privately available transportation options. The Department previously authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees and ordered the departure of eligible family members on January 23, 2022.

As of Sunday, February 13, 2022, the Department of State will suspend consular services at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The Embassy will maintain a small consular presence in Lviv, Ukraine to handle emergencies, but will not be able to provide passport, visa or routine consular services.  U.S. citizens may seek these services at U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries. U.S. citizens seeking emergency assistance in Ukraine should complete this online form and the State Department will respond.

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On Russia’s Diplomats’ Day, Moscow Kicks Out US Embassy DCM

 

US Embassy Moscow’s Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman and his family departed Moscow on February 10 after being declared persona non grata by the Russian Federation, this blog has learned.
The US Embassy in Moscow did not respond to our inquiry.
Mr. Gorman was Chargé d’affaires at US Mission  Russia after the departure of Ambassador Jon M. Huntsman Jr. who served in Moscow from October 2, 2017–October 3, 2019. Ambassador John J. Sullivan (1959–) assumed charge of the mission in January 2020 and Mr. Gorman continued as his deputy. Below is Mr. Gorman’s bio via Embassy Moscow:

Bart Gorman is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Gorman is responsible for managing key aspects of the U.S. – Russia relationship.

From 2017-2019, Mr. Gorman served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Director for Threat Investigations and Analysis (TIA), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he oversaw all Diplomatic Security programs that analyze, assess, investigate, and disseminate information on threats directed against U.S. diplomatic personnel overseas and domestically.

Previously, Mr. Gorman worked as the Director of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (DS/ITA), where he led a cadre of analysts and support staff responsible for enhancing the safety and security of U.S. diplomatic facilities, personnel, and other key constituencies by monitoring, analyzing, and providing warnings about threats impacting U.S. interests worldwide.

Mr. Gorman has also served as the Senior Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Moscow, Russia (2014-2016); the Senior Deputy RSO in Baghdad, Iraq (2013-2014); the RSO in Amman, Jordan (2010-2013); the Deputy RSO in Beijing, China; a threat analyst in DS/ITA (2004-2006); the RSO in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2002-2004); the RSO in Yerevan, Armenia (2001-2002); and an Assistant RSO in Moscow, Russia (1999-2001). His first assignment as a special agent was in the New York Field Office (1999).

Mr. Gorman holds a Ph.D. and MA in Slavic Literatures and Languages from the University of Southern California, and a BA from Colgate University. He also holds an MS in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University.

Mr. Gorman is married to Donna Gorman and they have four children, ages 19, 16, 13, and 11.

 

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USG to Open an Embassy in Honiara, Solomon Islands — Send Bids Now?

 

 

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