Ambassadors from Western countries, along with their diplomatic missions – led by the United States – withdrew from Ukraine a few weeks ago. But not Cichocki. Some of his team of more than 80 Polish diplomats have either moved to the western city of Lviv, where they maintain a working consulate, or back to Warsaw. But many people are still by his side in the capital.
However, in an interview with BuzzFeed News on Thursday, there were signs that Cichocki was concerned about the Russian threat. Outside his office door stood a helmet and bulletproof vest decorated with a red and white Polish flag sticker. And he wears what he calls a “go bag” with “important documents” on his hip. His blood type is scrawled in a permanent marker on his left arm.
“I don’t want to end up in the coffin of confusion,” he quipped.
As he spoke, a barrage of rockets hit the outskirts of Kyiv. “Open the window so we can listen,” Cichocki said.
He pulled out his phone to check an app that was supposed to notify people when a Russian missile was approaching.
“I liked the app, but it was always two minutes late, a long time when the Iskanders arrived,” he said, referring to 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 remotely,” he said, adding that he remained engaged “24/7” with members of the Ukrainian government and other Western diplomats.
“Leaving now is something that can be reduced [Ukrainians’] I said.