President Volodymyr Zeleskyy would move to Lviv, western Ukraine, approximately 50 miles from the Polish border.
WASHINGTON — Two people familiar with the talks say that officials from the Biden administration have met with Ukrainian officials to discuss plans for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s departure from Kyiv in case of an invasion by Russia.
According to people familiar with the discussions, Zelenskyy would move to Lviv, Ukraine in the future, according to a plan. It is approximately 50 miles from the Polish border.
A White House official confirmed that President Joe Biden spoke with Zelenskyy by phone on Monday.
Due to security concerns over Russia’s military buildup at the Ukrainian border, most U.S. embassy staff were evacuated from Kyiv on February 12. They moved operations to Lviv. Officials from the U.S. warn of an invasion imminently reaching Kyiv.
When asked by the National Security Council spokesperson, he declined to answer questions about U.S.-Ukrainian officials’ discussions about Zelenskyy plans if Russia invades.
Zelenskyy spokesperson said that Biden and the Ukrainian leader have not discussed their possible departure from Kyiv or relocation to Lviv. According to the spokesperson, it was not known if such discussions were held between lower-ranking officials from the U.S. government and Ukraine.
Two sources familiar with the matter claimed that Zelenskyy had said in recent weeks, that the U.S. government and Western governments overstated the threat of a Russian invasion. However, his government has been quietly preparing for a possible Russian military strike and has moved sensitive IT infrastructure and military command components outside of Kyiv.
Source said that they had done all the preparations necessary. They did it quietly.
Despite trying to avoid panicking in its public statements the Ukrainian government tried to communicate to the Russians that there will be stiff resistance.
Administration officials still view Zelenskyy as more vulnerable, according to people familiar with the discussions on an exit strategy.
Officials from the Administration didn’t think it was wise to Zelenskyy leave Kyiv on Saturday in order to travel to Munich. Zelenskyy nevertheless made the trip and met with Kamala Harris, Vice President of the United States.
People familiar with discussions surrounding Zelenskyy’s exit strategy stated that they didn’t know if Harris discussed the topic.
John Herbst, an ex-ambassador of the United States to Ukraine, stated that Kyiv had taken steps to ensure that the government can operate without interruption in the event of an attack. However, he didn’t specify where the Cabinet would be relocated to in Ukraine.
Hersbt stated that “my understanding is they have made contingency plans to continue government.”