Ambassadors from Western countries, along with their diplomatic teams – led by the United States – withdrew from Ukraine a few weeks ago. But not Cichocki. Some members of his team of more than 80 Polish diplomats have moved to the western city of Lviv, where they maintain a functioning consulate, or returned to Warsaw. But many remain by his side in the capital.
Still, during his interview with BuzzFeed News on Thursday, there were signs that Cichocki was concerned about the Russian threat. In front of his office door were a helmet and body armor adorned with a red and white Polish flag patch. And he was carrying what he called a “go bag” with “important documents” on his hip. His blood type was scribbled in permanent marker on his left arm.
“I don’t want to end up in the wrong coffin,” he joked.
As he spoke, a volley of rockets hit the outskirts of kyiv. “Let’s open the window so we can listen,” Cichocki said.
He pulled out his phone to check an app that was supposed to warn residents of incoming Russian missiles.
“I like this app, but it’s always two minutes behind, which is a long time when the Iskanders are coming,” he said, referring to the Russian short-range hypersonic ballistic missiles that were used against Ukraine. .
Cichocki said he was not asked, let alone ordered, by his bosses in Warsaw to leave Kyiv. “There are things you can’t do from a distance,” he said, adding that he was still in contact “24/7” with members of the Ukrainian government and other officials. other Western diplomats.
“Leaving now is something that could diminish [Ukrainians’] spirits,” he said.