- Foreign governments have started to reopen their embassies in Kyiv.
- The US is among them, sending a new ambassador and other diplomats back to the Ukrainian capital.
- The Diplomatic Security Service is also on the ground to protect the embassy and its staff.
As most of the fighting shifted to eastern and southern Ukraine, life in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities resumed.
Foreign counties have started to reopen their diplomatic missions in Ukraine despite the constant threat of long-range Russian attacks. The US followed suit, reopening the US Embassy in Kyiv and appointing a new ambassador.
Because the US is a big supporter of Ukraine’s government and military, and because Russia remains a threat throughout Ukraine – Ukraine’s security services are constantly tracking Russian supporters and collaborators – the reopened embassy, other diplomatic facilities and Americans in the country could be targets.
As a result, the White House is considering sending in US special operators to secure the facility.
Special operators in Kyiv?
According to The Wall Street Journal, the State Department and Department of Defense are evaluating whether to send US special operations teams to guard the US Embassy in Kyiv and protect US diplomats in Ukraine.
Any deployment of special operators would complement the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service security teams. Insider understands that special agents from the Diplomatic Security Service are among the officials who have returned to Kyiv.
While the State Department is in “close contact” with the Pentagon regarding security requirements for the reopened diplomatic mission in Kyiv, no decision has been made on sending US troops to Ukraine to protect the embassy, the State Department said. .
The Pentagon echoed that statement, saying that no decision had been made and that there was no specific proposal “on the return of US military personnel to Ukraine for this or any other purpose” being debated at the senior defense levels.
“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss specific security measures at our facilities, but the department always ensures that our posts have appropriate security features, as determined by our security professionals, to complement host country requirements as detailed in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” a State Department spokesperson told Insider.
“The safety of US personnel is among our highest priorities,” the spokesperson added.
Since a mob of Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and captured more than 60 Americans who were held hostage for 444 days, US special operations units have created contingency plans for most US diplomatic facilities.
Joint Special Operations Command’s tier-one special mission units—primarily the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Development Group (formerly known as SEAL Team 6)—are responsible for counterterrorism operations and hostage rescue. If a US diplomatic mission is under attack or US diplomats have been taken hostage anywhere in the world, it would likely be these two units that would respond.
Protecting diplomats in war zones
Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, primary responsibility for the external security and protection of embassies and consulates rests with the host government – for example, US law enforcement is responsible for ensuring that nothing happens to Chinese embassies. or Russian in DC, and this also applies to accredited foreign personnel.
When it comes to perimeter security for US diplomatic missions, an initiative called Local Guard Program provides external security, including perimeter access control and early threat identification and deterrence. There are also US personnel guarding diplomatic missions.
The State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service complements host nation security and support and is responsible for the security of diplomatic facilities and sites, including physical, technical, and procedural security.
Special Agents of the Diplomatic Security Service, known as Regional Security Officers when abroad, work with other members of the DSS team – including security engineering officers and technical security specialists – and Marines assigned to the US Embassy Security Group. Marine Corps “to provide flexible and effective security,” the State Department spokesperson added.
The service is the law enforcement and security arm of the Department of State, and its approximately 2,500 active special agents have four sets of core missions: protect U.S. diplomats, conduct passport and visa fraud investigations, ensure the integrity of documents confidential travel documents and conduct security background checks.
With offices in 29 US cities and 270 locations around the world, the Diplomatic Security Service has the broadest global responsibilities in the US federal law enforcement community.
Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a veteran of the Hellenic Army (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ) and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University.