No plans yet for Australia to reopen Kyiv embassy despite allies’ return
Posted On May 3, 2022
A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson confirmed Ukraine embassy staff continued to work out of Poland.
“The location of staff from the Australian Embassy is subject to operational, safety and security considerations,” they told 9News.com.au.
“It is being regularly reviewed.”
A growing list of western embassies have reopened in the Ukrainian capital or announced plans to do so since Russian forces last month abandoned their efforts to take Kyiv in favour of a reinforced attack in the east.
But Australian Ambassador to Ukraine and Moldova Bruce Edwards is not among diplomats with immediate plans to return.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said American diplomats were making plans to return to Ukraine as soon as possible and had already made initial visits to Lviv in the more-secure west of the country.
United Kingdom ambassador to Kyiv Melinda Simmons has already made the “overwhelming” return to the city with a pre-war population of almost 3 million.
“I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to Kyiv, so coming back is an extraordinary thing,” she told The Guardian.
“It absolutely feels like the right place to be.”
Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod reopened the Danish embassy in Kyiv and met with his counterpart Dymtro Kuleba and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday, saying his visit showed the “the full support from the Danish side” on transfer of weapons, sanctions on Russia and humanitarian assistance.
The returns are not without danger. Nearly a dozen people were wounded in Thursday’s Russian missile attack on Kyiv, which came barely an hour after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a news conference with UN Secretary-General António Guterres in the capital.
The Lviv outpost was later shut as diplomats moved to Poland.
“Due to the increased risk, the Government has directed the departure of Australian Embassy staff from Ukraine, and all have now departed,” the government says, on its Ukraine Embassy website.
“Our Embassy and operations in Lviv are now temporarily closed. Australian officials have been deployed to Poland to assist Australians seeking to depart Ukraine.”
Independent Senator Rex Patrick on Tuesday called for the embassy to be reopened.
“The reopening of Australia’s Embassy in Kyiv would be an important demonstration of solidarity with Ukraine and allow the provision of more effective consular services to Australian citizens in that embattled country”, he said, in a media release.
“This should not be a decision left until sometime after Australia’s federal election.”
He said there was no reason the caretaker government provision in effect because of the election should prevent Foreign Minister Marise Payne consulting with Labor Foreign Affairs spokesperson Penny Wong to reopen the embassy.
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“With the withdrawal of Russian forces from the vicinity of Kyiv a month ago, Western governments have been moving quickly to re-establish their diplomatic establishments in the Ukrainian capital.
“Some twenty-seven nations have reopened diplomatic posts in Kyiv with South Korea being the latest.”