The U.S. withdrawal from its embassy in Kyiv included the destruction of some immigration and travel documents under Sensitive Information Protection Protocol, according to notes from a phone call between the Biden administration and Congress and shared. with The Hill.
Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenBlinken tells Russia ‘the diplomatic channel remains open’ US, Japan and South Korea meet in Hawaii to discuss North Korea Biden warns Putin of ‘quick and significant costs’ if Russia invades Ukraine MORE announced on Monday that the United States would close its embassy in Kiev amid threats of a Russian invasion of Ukraine that officials said could be launched at any time.
The destruction of documents was discussed during a Feb. 12 call between Assistant Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksMalinowski is the latest lawmaker to test positive for COVID-19 after a trip to Ukraine Pelosi calls on Moscow and Putin to ‘feel the pain’ if Russia strikes Ukraine Democratic representative tests positive for COVID-19 at his returning from a trip to Ukraine MORE (DN.Y.), whose notes were provided to congressional staff and obtained by The Hill.
Documents destroyed include green card and unprocessed passport documents.
Of the updates McKeon provided to Meeks, although the State Department doesn’t have an exact picture of the number of Americans in Ukraine, about 2,100 responded to an online survey, with half saying they intended to stay in the country.
McKeon also told the president that embassies in the region, in Warsaw, Poland, for example, are preparing for an influx of Ukrainian refugees and the treatment of American citizens.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a briefing with reporters on Monday that he could not provide details about the destruction of documents at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, but said no valid passports had been destroyed.
“There is a standard set of procedures that we implement when we begin an embassy withdrawal,” Price said. “We’ve taken careful precautions around sensitive documents, sensitive equipment, but we just can’t offer a whole lot of detail there.”
Price said the embassy compound was guarded by Ukrainian National Guard police and U.S. diplomats intended to eventually return to the embassy in Kyiv.
Diplomats from Kiev are transferred to the American mission in Lviv, a city located closer to the border with Poland. The Biden administration has issued urgent instructions since last week for Americans to leave Ukraine amid the threat of an outbreak of conflict, warning it would not perform a massive evacuation.
But the administration stressed that it was still vigorously pursuing diplomacy with Moscow and that maintaining communication was part of efforts to avert a possible Russian invasion. This includes that the United States should receive written responses from Russia to correspondence previously sent by Washington that offered talks to address mutual security concerns.