On Monday, Greece announced that it has reopened its embassy in the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, after it was forced to shut it down in the days leading to the Russian invasion.
The announcement was made by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias who said that the head of the mission will be diplomat Manolis Androulakis who was the last remaining Western diplomat left in the city of Mariupol.
Η ελληνική σημαία κυματίζει πάλι σήμερα στο Κίεβο, την πρωτεύουσα της Ουκρανίας, όπου η Πρεσβεία μας άνοιξε τις πόρτες της. Επικεφαλής, ως επιτετραμμένος, τοποθετήθηκε ο Μανώλης Ανδρουλάκης, ο τελευταίος διπλωμάτης που έφυγε από τη μαρτυρική πλέον πόλη της Μαριούπολης. pic.twitter.com/PgpXfxzYkw
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) May 9, 2022
The Greek diplomat lived through a series of Russian attacks on the city. where residents have been left without necessities like food, water, and heat for weeks.
“Mariupol will be added to the lists of international cities that have been destroyed, such as Guernica, Stalingrad, and Grozny,” Androulakis stated just after arriving in Athens.
Greek diplomat in Ukraine describes horrors of war
“Every day the situation was becoming worse. The city was encircled and the battles were closing in. Civilians were hit. The civilian infrastructure was hit. A hospital was hit, a library, a university. When I say they were hit, I mean nothing was left standing,” Androulakis said.
He describes the chaos following the Russian strikes. “We were left without water, electricity, or telecommunications. Mariupol ran out of supplies such as food and gas. I witnessed a huge humanitarian crisis,” said Androulakis.
The Greek diplomat’s eyewitness account points to war crimes committed by the Russian armed forces.
“Civilians were victims of indiscriminate bombing,” he says. “What was the strategic thinking behind shelling a city to ruins?” he asked.
“The Ukrainians opened a humanitarian corridor for people to flee the city but it was hit by the Russians,” the Greek diplomat said.
“I cannot see how anyone can return to this city. It would take at least a generation to rebuild it,” he lamented.
The U.S. plans to re-open the embassy in Ukraine
The announcement by Dendias follows the arrival in Kyiv on Sunday of the U.S. top diplomat to Ukraine, Kristina Kvien, and her team.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised on a visit last month to reopen the U.S. embassy in the Ukrainian capital soon.
Blinken spoke to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Sunday and informed Kuleba that a small group led by Charge d’Affaires Kvien “traveled to Kyiv to conduct diplomatic engagement in advance of the planned resumption of Embassy Kyiv operations,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement.
The group was accompanied by State Department security, Price said.
The move is the latest step toward the resumption of a full U.S. presence in Kyiv after diplomats began returning to the western city of Lviv last month, having left the country ahead of Russia’s February 24th invasion out of security concerns.
The trip, timed to commemorate Victory in Europe Day on Sunday, was a temporary visit and does not signal the reopening of the embassy, a senior State Department official said.