The U.S. embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, reopened on Wednesday after three months of being shuttered.
President Joe Biden ordered the embassy to close temporarily in the days before Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. All diplomatic services were suspended.
Some embassy personnel relocated to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, while others went to Poland.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “Today we are officially resuming operations at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia’s unconscionable invasions, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again.”
Blinken announced additional security and protocols are being implemented to ensure the safety of returning personnel.
Politico characterized the resumption of the embassy’s operations as a “soft opening,” with only a “small contingent” of U.S. diplomats returning to Kyiv. Embassy functions will be limited, and no consular services will be offered.
While the security situation in Kyiv has “stabilized,” the U.S. embassy’s reopening ceremony had to be delayed an hour because of an air raid warning, underscoring the lingering danger in the capital city.
Russian troops and armor may have retreated from the capital, but air raids and ballistic missiles remain a threat as far west as Lviv.
According to Politico, Marines will not be present at the embassy during this phase of reopening. U.S. Diplomatic Security agents and Ukrainian national guard and police assumed responsibility for guarding the embassy.
More than a dozen countries began sending their diplomats back to Kyiv in April to reopen their embassies, including France, Italy, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The EU diplomatic mission also reopened that month.
American withdrawal from Kyiv started in late January when the State Department ordered non-essential staff and family members to leave Ukraine over fears Russia would soon invade. The remaining embassy staff and diplomats left a few days before the invasion actually began on February 24.