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Acting U.S. Ambassador Kristina Kvien returns to Kyiv amid war in Ukraine

Acting U.S. Ambassador Kristina Kvien returns to Kyiv amid war in Ukraine
Kristina Kvien, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, returned to Kyiv on Sunday with a group of diplomats for the first time since before Russia invaded on Feb. 24. Photo courtesy Kristina Kvien/Twitter

May 8 (UPI) -- Kristina Kvien, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, returned to Kyiv on Sunday with a group of diplomats for the first time since before Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

"Just arrived in Kyiv! Delighted to be back on Victory in Europe Day. Slava Ukraini! We #standwithUkraine," Kvien tweeted.

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A senior official with the U.S. State Department told United Press International that Kvien and the diplomats were accompanied by State Department security to travel to Kyiv for Victory in Europe Day.

"This is a temporary visit and does not signal the reopening of Embassy Kyiv at this time," the senior official said.

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The United States closed its embassy in the Ukrainian capital in February while some diplomats were relocated to the city of Lviv in western Ukraine, before leaving the country altogether.

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Kvien on Monday returned to Lviv and said in a speech that she was "thrilled" to return to the country.

"Two days before Russia launched its horrific attack on Ukraine, I stood here in this square and said that President Putin's 'flagrant disrespect for international laws and norms would be met by a forceful response from the United States, our allies and partners,'" Kvien said Monday.

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"Today, nine weeks after the start of this unprovoked invasion I am proud to say that we have lived up to our word."

Kvien said that the United States with its NATO allies and other countries "have armed and supplied Ukraine at a speed and scale that is unprecedented" and has "fortified the eastern flank of NATO with thousands of troops."

"Today, it is clear that Putin has made a historic miscalculation in his unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine," Kvien said.

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"In fact, he has achieved the opposite of what he set out to do. He sought to subjugate Ukraine, and instead, he showcased to the world Ukraine's unity, resolve and bravery."

Kvien said she and her team have been "working day and night from Poland" to provide security and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine while helping U.S. citizens in need.

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"We are thrilled to be back and will continue our efforts to do everything possible to help Ukraine win this war," she said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has pledged to return diplomats to Kyiv as quickly as possible, and has instructed Under Secretary for Management John Bass and the diplomatic security team to work closely with the Kvien, the Charge d'Affaires, to make sure it happens safely and securely.

In the past 48 hours, Blinken has been in close contact with Bass and Kvien and the team overseeing the return to Kyiv, according to the senior official.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement Sunday that Blinken spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba "to commemorate Ukraine's Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation to recognize the sacrifices of those lost in World War II."

Blinken told Kuleba that Kvien and the diplomats had traveled to Kyiv to conduct diplomatic engagement in advance of the planned resumption of Embassy Kyiv operations, as he had pledged to President Volodymyr Zelensky during his most recent visit to Kyiv.

"[Blinken] also shared additional detail of new security assistance packages to support Ukraine's gains on the battlefield, including the ninth drawdown from U.S. stocks authorized by President [Joe] Biden and the expanded authorities that will be offered under the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022," Price said.

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"The Secretary emphasized the United States' enduring commitment to Ukraine and its ultimate victory against Russian aggression."

Kvien's visit Sunday came as first lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip to Ukraine where she met with first lady Olena Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky, at a school near the border with Slovakia.

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