The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2022 17 TALKING POINTS Russia Invades Ukraine O n Feb. 24, Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the largest conventional military attack on a sover- eign state in Europe since World War II. U.S. embassy operations in Ukraine were moved fromKyiv to Lviv on Feb. 14 before relocating to the Polish city of Rzeszow, near the border with Ukraine, a week later. Before departing Kyiv, embassy staff had been instructed to destroy computer workstations and networking equipment and to dismantle the embassy telephone system, the Wall Street Journal reported. Many embassy employees have been relocated stateside; several hundred people have been evacuated, including family members. On Feb. 28, a day after Belarus revoked its non-nuclear status, U.S. Embassy Minsk suspended operations and all American staff departed the country. In a statement issued the day of the invasion, AFSA President Eric Rubin said the following: “As fervent believers in the primacy of diplomacy as the principal alternative to war and the human suffering it brings, we watched in horror as Russia shattered the post-WWII and post–Cold War settlements: no forcible change of bor- ders, respect for every nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and rejection of historical grievances as a cause for aggres- sion and violence. “At this wrenching time, AFSA will support our colleagues and their family members who have been evacuated from Embassies Kyiv andMinsk, as well as our remaining colleagues inMoscowwho continue to serve under the most severe hardships imaginable. We are also deeply concerned for the welfare and safety of local national employees in Ukraine and urge the Department of State and other USG agencies to domore to help them get to safety and provide the support they During an interview with the Federal News Network’s Federal Drive podcast on March 1, Rubin said he’s certain the Rus- sian government can obtain the employee directory of the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and the Ukrainians who worked there might be singled out for retaliation. In an effort to support local staff who served at U.S. Embassy Kyiv and their families, former FSO Nathan Schmidt set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe through his nonprofit organization, Mountain Seed Foundation. Funds will cover the cost of lodging in western Ukraine and neighbor- ing countries, as well as food and other essential needs. By mid-March, the United Nations estimated that more than 2 million people had fled Ukraine, crossing into neighbor- ing countries to the west such as Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary andMoldova. U.N. High Commissioner Filippo Grandi need. They should not be abandoned at this terrible time.” Ambassador Rubin, who served in both Russia and Ukraine earlier in his career, emphasized the plight of FSNs in a Feb. 26 interviewwith CBS News. Foreign Service nationals in Kyiv were given no guidance as to what they should do in the lead up to the Russian invasion, Rubin told CBS. “What we’re hearing fromboth our American colleagues who have left Ukraine and fromour more than 600 Ukrainian colleagues … is there was no information when it was decided that the American employees would leave,” he stated. “They left with very little notice. They shut down the embassy, they welded the doors shut, and our local employees did not have information about what to do and where to go, if anywhere, would they be paid, and how they were going to be protected.” This situation [in Ukraine] echoes our history. Kenya and almost every African country was birthed by the ending of empire. Our borders were not of our own drawing. They were drawn in the distant colonial metropoles of London, Paris and Lisbon, with no regard for the ancient nations that they cleaved apart. At independence, had we chosen to pursue states on the basis of ethnic, racial or religious homogeneity, we would still be waging bloody wars these many decades later. We chose to follow the rules of the Organisation of African Unity and the United Nations charter, not because our borders satisfied us, but because we wanted something greater, forged in peace. We believe that all states formed from empires that have collapsed or retreated have many peoples in them yearning for integration with peoples in neighboring states. This is normal and understandable. ... However, Kenya rejects such a yearning from being pursued by force. We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression. We rejected irredentism and expansionism on any basis, including racial, ethnic, religious or cultural factors. We reject it again today. —Kenyan U.N. Ambassador Martin Kimani, in a Feb. 22 speech at the U.N. Security Council. Contemporary Quote