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As tensions between Russia and Ukraine reach a fever pitch, with tens of thousands of Russian troops near the border and negotiations between NATO and Moscow at a standstill, the State Department updated its travel advisory, ordering all family members of eligible embassy staff to immediately leave the country authorizing the voluntary withdrawal of some of its staff, and telling private American citizens in the country to “consider departing now using commercial or other privately available transportation options.”
The United Kingdom has issued a similar order this Monday, as the BBC reported the Foreign Office will order approximately half of its diplomatic staff to go back home. European ambassadors will remain in Kyiv, however, as the EU’s chief diplomat has said he does not want to “dramatize” the crisis in Eastern Europe.
Biden confesses America will “not be in a position” to evacuate Americans in Ukraine
Most worryingly, the Biden White House has also remembered citizens that the United States does not have the capabilities to evacuate all citizens if the situation in Ukraine deteriorates significantly. According to a press release by the American embassy in Ukraine: “United States government will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency, so U.S. citizens currently present in Ukraine should plan accordingly”.
Currently, it is unknown how many American citizens are there in Ukraine. When asked by the press, WH Press Secretary Jen Psaki said “it’s an open question around the world. We don’t put a chip in Americans when they go to countries around the world and track their movements.” Americans can register into a government-managed list as they travel to Ukraine and Psaki said the “State Department would certainly have the number, in terms of Americans who have registered with the State Department.”
Conservative politicians have pointed out the similarities between Biden’s decision to tell Americans to leave Ukraine by their own means and the chaotic evacuation of the American embassy in Kabul after the fall of Afghanistan last year when thousands of U.S. citizens had to risk their lives and cross through Taliban-dominated areas alone in order to get to the evacuation zone, while many Americans more were left in Taliban Afghanistan after the last American soldier had left the country.
Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) tweeted that “in the face of grave danger, Joe Biden is once again abandoning Americans. We saw it in Afghanistan and now the world is watching in horror as he does it again. The man is unfit to serve as commander in chief.” Political strategist Kassy Dillon made a similar critique of the State Department’s decision, saying this was “Afghanistan Round 2” in a tweet. Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) tweeted “Biden to Americans overseas who want to come home from a war zone: You’re on your own.”
The situation in Ukraine is deteriorating quickly, as Western diplomats are sounding the alarms over an impending Russian assault on Ukraine. Just a few days ago, British Intelligence revealed a Moscow-backed plot to substitute the Kyiv government with one more friendly to the Kremlin. President Biden is also considering sending more American troops to Eastern Europe to shore up NATO allies during the crisis, according to a report from the New York Times, and just a couple of days ago 90 tons of U.S. military equipment arrived in Ukraine.
President Biden’s poll numbers began faltering after the botched Afghan evacuation. As the President tries to recover his political capital ahead of the 2022 midterms, the growing crisis over Ukraine threatens to damage even more his already fragile political image.
Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.