After a three-year delay, the US Embassy in Kiev is set to have a duly confirmed ambassador in charge instead of a temporary chargé d’affaires. On Wednesday, the US Senate approved Bridget Brink, who currently represents her country in Slovakia, for the post.
The career diplomat was nominated by the Biden administration a few weeks ago. It was confirmed by a unanimous vote, as both parties highlighted the importance of the office amid Russia’s military operation in the country.
“To have an ambassador there at this critical time as the United States continues to help the Ukrainian people … is a wonderful thing, is a good thing, and will help advance the cause of peace, security and freedom,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the confirmation.
Brink was given the mandate by lawmakers on the same day the Department of State reopened the embassy in Kiev. It ordered the evacuation of the mission in mid-February, 10 days before the Russian attack.
“As we take this momentous step, we have put forward additional measures to increase the safety of our colleagues who are returning to Kiev and have enhanced our security measures and protocols,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said regarding the move.
Marie Yovanovitch was the last US ambassador in Ukraine. Former President Donald Trump removed her in May 2019 amid the scandal over his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which resulted in his first impeachment. Three people have served as chargé d’affaires on an interim basis since, with Kristina Kvien holding the position at the moment.
Brink held several positions in the US diplomatic corps over her career, including in embassies in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia, and Uzbekistan.
In 2018, Foreign Policy reported that Brink had been considered for nomination as ambassador to Georgia, but Tbilisi allegedly rebuffed the idea as the diplomat was too favorable towards then-fugitive former President Mikhail Saakashvili.
The Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, dismissed the report as “far from reality.”
Bridget Brink was nominated to become the ambassador in Slovakia by the Trump administration, with the Senate confirming her in May 2019.
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.
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