The United States will evacuate all American staff from the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (SMM), according to an internal US State Department document seen by the Kyiv Post on Friday, Feb. 11, 2022.
A US citizen currently working for the SMM confirmed to Kyiv Post he had received a copy of the order, and that his chain of command had instructed him to prepare to leave Ukraine by Tuesday 15 Feb.
The US State Department contractor PAE, a Virginia-headquartered contractor responsible for US government staffing in overseas missions worldwide, said in the evacuation order all 46 US citizens working for the SMM must evacuate. The order has “immediate effect,” it said.
US staff with the SMM are PAE employees on contract to the US State Department. The SMM operates from bases across Ukraine, including one base in non-government-controlled Luhansk and a second base in non-government-controlled Donetsk.
Most of the Americans working for the SMM will have to make their way to Kyiv using commercial transport like buses or trains, but, Americans in Luhansk and Donetsk will move by special convoy arranged by the SMM, and transporting them across the line of contact, the evacuation order said.
PAE will arrange commercial transport from Kyiv to fly the US members of the SMM mission back to the United States, the order said.
The evacuation order instructed US staff with the SMM, who are currently outside Ukraine, not to return for the indefinite future. The evacuation order told the US staff that they would remain employed by the SMM for an additional month.
Their further employment by PAE would be linked to whether or not “the situation (in Ukraine) stabilizes,” the evacuation order said.
Here is the text of the leaked message:
Dear SMM Colleagues,
The United States believes the unprovoked Russian military buildup along and near the Ukrainian border presents a serious danger to Ukraine and all US citizens employed by the SMM.
Therefore, the US Government has instructed PAE to begin steps to immediately withdraw all US citizen SMM personnel in Ukraine under the PAE REACT contract. Additionally, as it is not clear where something may occur, this applies to all US Mission Members regardless of where you are currently deployed.
Our goal is to have everyone out of Ukraine by Tuesday 15 Feb. In terms of awareness at the OSCE, the Secretary General and the SMM Leadership have been advised of this decision which should be flowing through the Mission’s leadership structure to allow for all of you depart.
Additionally, for those of you in the NGCA, OSCE assets (vehicles) will be made available for you make your way to the GCA. This withdrawal will take immediate effect. Note that this decision will not be announced publicly.
At this time, we would ask that all US Mission Members not currently in Kyiv to immediately make their way to Kyiv. PAE will be working to provide air transport from Kyiv to your home of record.
You should travel to Kyiv using the most direct and efficient means. This will likely be by train…. Our records show that there are 46 US Mission Members currently in Ukraine…. For those of you in Kyiv (7), we can begin to immediately work on your flights. However, we would also request confirmation of your location by reply to this email.
This is extremely important so that we both confirm who is currently in-country and to make your flight arrangements.
I should emphasize that your flights will be made using commercial airlines and that there is not a chartered flight.
If you are currently outside of Ukraine, we would obviously ask that you do not return until further notice…. We understand this decision could have an unfortunate impact on the SMM’s capability and sustainability.
If the situation stabilizes, the US Government would welcome the opportunity to support the return of US citizen SMM personnel back to Ukraine.
I also know there are unanswered questions right now, such as your OSCE contract status, for which we are working to get answers.
This is obviously a difficult decision, but your safety and security are the absolute priorities.
I should note that I am passing along all information that I currently have and I will get more to you as I receive it.
Of course if you have questions, I will do my best to find an answer. However, at this time, we ask that you focus on making immediate plans for your departure.
Please be safe everyone and know that we are giving you our utmost support.
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