Washington — The Biden administration is sending a group of American diplomats back to the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to coincide with Russia’s Victory Day on May 9, when the country marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, four U.S. officials tell CBS News.
The diplomats’ return to the embassy is meant to underscore Russian President Vladimir Putin’s failure to capture the Ukrainian capital, even though his grindingin the country’s south and east is now underway. State Department sources said the embassy hopes to resume operations at the embassy in Kyiv and raise the American flag there in the coming weeks.
The move is part of the U.S. effort to counteract Russian propaganda surrounding the conflict, which the U.S. expects to see from the Kremlin on May 9, another U.S. official tells CBS News.
“The Russians will do everything they can to use the date in terms of their propaganda effort,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters last Monday. “I am quite confident you’ll be hearing more from the United States, from our partners, including our NATO partners, in the lead-up to May 9 as well.”
Putin falsely claims that the invasion of Ukraine — what he has called an ongoing “special military operation” — is an effort to remove Nazis from power there.
The Biden administration withdrew American diplomats from Kyiv on February 12 in order to avoid the risk of potential fatalities that would threaten to draw the U.S. directly into the conflict.
U.S. diplomats were evacuated first to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, closer to the border with NATO ally Poland, ahead of Russia’s invasion on February 24, and then taken out of the country as the war intensified. Embassy staff began making day trips back to Lviv early last week in order to be able to work with Ukrainian counterparts from there. Russian forces pulled back from Kyiv and the surrounding region at the beginning of April.
President Biden will join a call with other G7 world leaders and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday.
Camilla Schick contributed to this report.