US diplomats return to Kyiv embassy on first visit since invasion

WASHINGTON: The US top diplomat to Ukraine Kristina Kvien and her team arrived in Kyiv on Sunday (May 8), officials said, after Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised on a visit last month to reopen the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital soon.

The move is the latest step toward the resumption of a full US presence in Kyiv after diplomats began returning to the western city of Lviv last month, having left the country ahead of Russia’s Feb 24 invasion out of security concerns.

The trip, timed to commemorate Victory in Europe Day on Sunday, was a temporary visit and does not signal the reopening of the embassy, a senior State Department official said. Russia celebrates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany on its Victory Day on Monday.

Blinken spoke to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday and informed Kuleba that a small group led by Charge d’Affaires Kvien “travelled to Kyiv to conduct diplomatic engagement in advance of the planned resumption of Embassy Kyiv operations”, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.

The group was accompanied by State Department security, Price said.

Videos posted on social media on Sunday showed a motorcade rolling into the embassy compound.