Afghanistan 2.0? WH Weighing Plan to Get Americans out of Ukraine

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Russia has 100,000 troops perched on Ukraine’s border and has been threatening further war against them for months.

From Bloomberg:

Russia is continuing a military buildup, sending troops and armor to within a few miles of the Ukrainian border in neighboring Belarus for joint military drills that start Feb. 10. Two divisions of S-400 air-defense systems are also being dispatched to Belarus, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday, according to the Interfax news service.

Joe Biden seemed to put that threat into even sharper focus with a huge blunder suggesting that he wouldn’t have a big reaction if the Russians just did a “minor incursion.” Even the White House “clean-up” effort downplayed how they would react to paramilitary involvement, suggesting that might not precipitate a military response from the NATO nations. In 2014, a lot of the Russian action against Ukraine involved paramilitary forces.

When White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked on Thursday if Biden had spoken with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky after Biden’s troubling comments, Psaki said he had not, which shows with what little respect he deals with people.

Now, word is that the White House is weighing a plan to get the families of diplomats out of Ukraine, according to Bloomberg.

Under the plan, family members would be ordered to return home while non-essential employees would be able to leave voluntarily. An announcement may come within days, according to the people, who asked not to be identified before a decision is reached. [….]

The U.S. employs about 180 American citizens and 560 Ukrainians at its embassy in Kyiv, according to the embassy website. That doesn’t include family members, so the number of U.S. citizens living in embassy housing is probably much higher.

I hope they’re doing more than “weighing” a plan. They were “weighing” plans in Afghanistan for months and did next to nothing to get people out before the country collapsed. Given their failure of intelligence when it came to judging what was going on in Afghanistan, I doubt what kind of intelligence or reaction they might have in this case if things suddenly escalate.

Reporters grilled Psaki today on if there were plans regarding other Americans who might be in Ukraine. Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich asked if there was an evacuation plan if needed.

Psaki’s response sounded like a “deja vu all over again” of Afghanistan.

“I will say that one, we are already at a level-four travel advisory for Ukraine for COVID-19 and … have been advising that U.S. citizens should be aware of reports that Russia is planning for significant military action against Ukraine,” Psaki said.

“We do conduct rigorous contingency planning, as we always do in the event of the security — any security situation deteriorates in any country around the world. The State Department does that assessment. I would point you to them for any predictions or previews of any steps they may take.”

When asked if they were keeping track of Americans who might have to get out, she gave the same answer that she gave on Afghanistan, that they don’t microchip people.

“It’s an open question around the world. We don’t put a chip on Americans when they go to countries around the world and track their movements,” Psaki said. “People can register at the State Department. That’s something they do.”

“Or they may choose not to register or there might be people in any country around the world who are dual citizens who haven’t lived in or have never lived in the United States. But the State Department would certainly have the number in terms of Americans who have registered with the State Department.”

So, let’s translate that: once again, they have no idea how many people there are in Ukraine. Let’s hope that the Americans who are there now learned a lesson from Afghanistan because you can bet that if Russia suddenly invaded, they would be stuck just like Biden left Americans in Afghanistan. Can we expect that they next will be saying that they will be getting out everyone who “wants to leave” — to cover the people that they are about to leave behind?