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US warns Americans abroad not to count on a rescue

WASHINGTON — This month, when American officials believed Russia could invade Ukraine, they pleaded with American citizens to leave the country immediately — and added a grim addendum.

They said that no rescue force would come to save those left behind.

That is the point at which President Biden drove home last week by insisting he would not use the military to deport anyone trapped by a Russian attack.

“All Americans should leave Ukraine,” he told NBC News, adding that he couldn’t risk a clash with the Russian military that could trigger World War III.

The fallout from the chaotic evacuation of Americans from Afghanistan last summer appears to have shaped Mr. Biden’s approach to the Ukraine crisis in many ways, from clearer coordination with allies. Europeans, who in some cases felt excluded from the Afghanistan plan, to greater transparency about most dire intelligence assessments.

But in Ukraine and beyond, American officials also focused on a more specific worry: that Americans living in dangerous zones abroad would assume an Air Force C-17 cargo plane troops – like the ones that carried thousands of people out of Afghanistan in the final days of the US withdrawal – would be their last resort option.

In warnings to Americans abroad over the past few months, first in struggling Ethiopia and now in Ukraine, Biden officials have made it clear that the Afghanistan rescue operation was a one-off. Best.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, “The United States does not normally conduct mass evacuations. told reporters last week. She points out that “the situation in Afghanistan is unique for many reasons”.

Miss Psaki is referring to 16 days military evacuation of American diplomats, contractors, aid workers and others from Kabul airport shortly before and after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. More than 100,000 Afghans who supported the United States in its 20-year war in the country, along with their family members, have also been brought out.

The Biden administration declared that campaign a success, even as it endured harsh criticism for not anticipating the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and not starting the evacuation sooner. Some frustrated American officials noted that their repeated public calls for Americans to leave the country in the months before the Taliban takeover had been largely ignored.

The president has since been determined to avoid anything resembling a repeat of that activity, which was tragically terminated by a suicide bomb explosion on August 26, killing 170 civilians and 13 US Marines guarding the gate outside Kabul airport.

“An invasion is still clearly possible,” Biden said Tuesday in a national address. “That’s why I’ve asked many times that all Americans in Ukraine leave now before it’s too late to leave safely.” The president added that that is why he also ordered the temporary relocation of the US embassy from Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, to Lviv in western Ukraine, near the country’s border with Poland.

Biden officials delivered a similar, if less noticeable, message a few months ago, when rebel forces entered the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. With analysts warning of bloody urban fighting and the possibility of government collapse, the State Department began issuing near-daily statements urging Americans to depart.

As is the case with Ukraine today, State Department officials have specifically warned that the Kabul airstrike should not be taken as a precedent.

“I think there may be a misconception that what we are seeing in Afghanistan is something the US government can do anywhere and in any part of the world,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the Department of Defense. Diplomats, said at a news conference Nov. 15, he added that no one “should expect that we might be in a position to do something similar to what we have seen.” in Afghanistan.”

In recent days, the United States has also warned Americans against traveling to Belarus and Transnistria, a breakaway region of Moldova, both of which border Ukraine.

The US State Department estimated in October that about 6,600 US citizens reside in Ukraine, many of them dual nationals, along with an unspecified number of tourists.

Ronald E. Neumann, a former US ambassador to three countries, including Afghanistan, said it can be difficult to convince Americans that they are self-sufficient.

“They didn’t get out, and then they thought the army would come and arrest them,” said Mr. Neumann, who is now president of the American Diplomatic Academy.

But leaving Americans behind is one thing to talk about and another to do it, he admits. “Some MPs will scream that you have to find Mary Jo,” he said. “And you have to do it, because that’s what you have to do.”

Neumann noted that American diplomats have taken great risks in the past to get Americans out of harm’s way. During World War II, he said, embassy officials in France and Poland supported the Americans even as the German attacks had begun. “Diplomats went out in the middle of the air strikes to find the Americans and get them into the embassy,” he said.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow also kept a skeleton crew there after the Nazis invaded Russia in 1941. (Diplomats store water by freezing it in trash cans and when they’re not prepared. prepared for the siege, attended the ballet “Swan Lake” about 50 times, according to Official history of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)

American officials say that even American diplomats at the embassy in Kyiv, who are guarded by a squad of marines, are in too much of a danger to stay there. And former ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, a veteran of war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, says he is not at fault for the decision.

“I think it was the right call. The last thing the authorities want is embassy casualties or hostages, and they’ve come this close to Afghanistan,” he said. A US Army investigative report obtained by The Washington Post included complaints that the State Department was dangerously reluctant to evacuate its embassy in Kabul.

Crocker noted that he believes Moscow is involved in the unsolved 1979 kidnapping and death of the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph “Spike” Dubs, shortly before the Soviet invasion.

Even so, some American diplomats argue that moving US embassy operations before the start of potential conflicts is an overreaction stemming from the memory of the Kabul airlift and Probably the 2012 terrorist attack on an American compound in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four Americans.

Russian state media have mocked the United States for running from what it calls a ghost threat, according to translations of Russian-language radio programs broadcast in the State Department this week.

“While Americans [diplomats] on the run from Kyiv, the American television crews were still there, scouring the city for sensations. However, they have to report from the streets where nothing happened,” Moscow’s Rossiya 1 network reported.

Many current and former U.S. officials believe that American diplomats in general have become too risk-averse, especially since the disaster in Benghazi, which has become a longstanding political focus, with Republicans argued that the Obama administration had a cover-up and that the conspiracy was unproven.

“A risk-free world is not a world that American diplomacy can bring,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said in a speech in October at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va., which trains the U.S. diplomatic corps. “We have to take the risk and manage it intelligently.”

But in the case of Ukraine, Mr. Blinken is wrong on the safety side.

In an interview with a Ukrainian TV station on Tuesday, he said the decision was made “out of a lot of precaution.”

“It is prudent to do so,” added Mr Blinken, “because, again, my personal responsibility is for the safety and security of our people.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/16/us/politics/us-evacuation-ukraine-kabul.html US warns Americans abroad not to count on a rescue

Fry Electronics Team

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