Kristina Kvien has a lot on her hands. She’s the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, or chargé d’affaires. She’s been staying on top of the crisis created by Russia deploying some 130,000 troops near the country. That carries with it the implicit threat of invasion if Moscow doesn’t get its way.
“It’s a concerning situation,” she told Fox News, “because we’ve also seen very strong rhetoric from the Russians, and we have also seen their demands.”
In the last few days, she’s been in charge of lowering the U.S. diplomatic profile in Kyiv, arranging for the evacuation of families of embassy workers as well as some non-essential employees. It’s been branded by the Ukrainian government as premature. The acting ambassador stands by it.
Members of Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)
“Out of an abundance of caution,” she explained, “we wanted to make sure that our family members were safe and out of harm’s way.”
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She also has to straddle a fine line with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. He’s been saying that the U.S. is exaggerating the risk of a Russian invasion. Over the weekend, the White House called for greater clarity from Zelenskyy. Officials said while he’s “talking down” the incursion risk and “talking up” U.S. military aid.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy answers questions from the media in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)
“President Zelenskyy has a very difficult path to stay on,” the acting ambassador told Fox News. “I think he’s trying to keep things calm in the country.”
It is, in fact, the diplomatic route that seasoned foreign veterans like Kvien hope will get the world out of this geopolitical mess. But considering the Russian president, she’s not so sure.
Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the hall to address Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medalists during the meeting at the Grand Kremlin Palace, on Sept. 13, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
“I wouldn’t say that it has become crystal clear either way what President Putin’s intentions are,” she told us. “We hope that we can continue on the diplomatic path.”
So do a lot of people, especially the folks here in Ukraine.
Greg Palkot currently serves as a London-based senior foreign affairs correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1998 as a correspondent. Follow him on Twitter@GregPalkot.