State Department Diplomatic Security Service agents return to Kyiv, Ukraine

  • Foreign governments have started to reopen their embassies in Kyiv.
  • The United States is among them, returning a new ambassador and other diplomats to the Ukrainian capital.
  • The diplomatic security service is also on the ground to protect the embassy and its staff.

While most of the fighting has moved to eastern and southern Ukraine, life in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities has resumed.

Foreign countries have started to reopen their diplomatic missions in Ukraine despite the constant threat of long-range Russian strikes. The United States followed suit, reopening the US embassy in Kyiv and appointing a new ambassador.

Because the United States is a major supporter of the Ukrainian government and military and because Russia remains a threat throughout Ukraine – Ukrainian security services constantly track down Russian supporters and collaborators – the reopened embassy, other diplomatic installations and Americans in the country could be targeted.

As a result, the White House is considering sending US special operators to guard the facility.

Special operators in Kyiv?

A photograph shows the US Embassy building in Kyiv, January 24, 2022.

The US Embassy in Kyiv on January 24, 2022.

Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

According to the Wall Street Journal, the State Department and the Department of Defense plan to send American special operations teams to guard the American embassy in Kyiv and to protect American diplomats in Ukraine.

Any deployment of special operators would supplement the security teams of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service. Insider understands that special agents from the Diplomatic Security Service are among the personnel who 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 whether to send US troops to Ukraine to protect the embassy. , the State Department said.

The Pentagon echoed that statement, saying no decision has been made and there is no specific proposal “regarding the return of U.S. service members to Ukraine for this or any other purpose” being debated. at higher levels of defense.

Russian tank T-72 in Kyiv Ukraine

Passers-by look at a destroyed T-72 tank, part of an exhibition of Russian military vehicles in Kyiv, June 7, 2022.

Aleksandr Gusev/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

“As a matter of principle, we do not discuss specific security measures at our facilities, but the department always ensures that our posts have the appropriate security resources, as determined by our security professionals, to complement country requirements. host as detailed in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” a State Department spokesperson told Insider.

“The safety and security of American 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 emergency plans for most US diplomatic facilities.

Joint Special Operations Command Tier 1 special mission units – primarily the Army’s Delta Force and the Navy’s Naval Special Warfare Development Group (formerly SEAL Team 6) – are responsible for counter-terrorism operations and hostage rescue. If an American diplomatic mission were attacked or if American diplomats were taken hostage anywhere in the world, it would probably be these two units that would react.

Protect diplomats in war zones

Embassy of the Diplomatic Security Service Niamey Niger

A Diplomatic Security Service deputy regional security officer, in blue plaid, with Nigerien police and security personnel during an exercise in Niger, April 12, 2018.

US State Department

Under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the primary responsibility for external security and protection of embassies and consulates rests with the host government – for example, US law enforcement agencies are tasked with ensure that nothing happens to Chinese or Russian embassies in DC, and this also applies to accredited foreign personnel.

With respect to perimeter security at U.S. diplomatic missions, an initiative called the Local Guard Program provides exterior security, including perimeter access control and early threat identification and deterrence. There are also US personnel guarding diplomatic missions.

The Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service complements host nation security and support and is responsible for the security of diplomatic facilities and locations, including physical, technical, and procedural security.

Diplomatic Security Service Mobile Security Deployment Team

Special agents from the Diplomatic Security Service’s Office of Mobile Security Deployments help secure a street in Manhattan, September 23, 2018.

US State Department

Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents, known as Regional Security Officers Overseas, work alongside other DSS team members – including security engineers and technical security specialists — and Marines assigned to the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group “to provide flexible and effective security,” the State Department spokesperson added.

The service is the law enforcement and security arm of the State Department, and its approximately 2,500 active special agents have four primary sets of missions: protecting U.S. diplomats, investigating passports and visas, ensuring the integrity of classified US travel documents and conducting security background checks.

With offices in 29 U.S. cities and 270 locations around the world, the Diplomatic Security Service has the broadest global responsibilities within the U.S. 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.

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