Biden names veteran career diplomat Brink as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine

REUTERS/Tasos Katopodis
U.S. President Joe Biden gestures as he boards Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base, in New Castle, Delaware, U.S., April 25, 2022.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden named veteran diplomat Bridget Brink as the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the White House said on Monday, moving to fill a crucial position that was vacant for nearly three years as Washington ramps up efforts to help Ukraine fend off a Russian invasion.

Brink, currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, has been a career diplomat for 25 years and has worked in Uzbekistan and Georgia as well as in several senior positions across the State Department and White House National Security Council.

A Michigan native who speaks Russian, Brink’s “decades of experience make her uniquely suited for this moment in Ukraine’s history,” a State Department statement said.

The U.S. Senate needs to confirm the choice for the post, vacant since former President Donald Trump abruptly recalled then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch in May 2019.

Democratic and Republican Senate aides said they did not anticipate problems winning approval. Brink was confirmed by unanimous voice vote in 2019 when former Republican President Donald Trump nominated her for her current position in Bratislava.

The nomination announcement came during a weekend trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where they met President Volodomyr Zelenskiy and other top Ukrainian officials.

During the visit, the cabinet secretaries also pledged new aid worth $713 million for Zelenskiy’s government and countries in the region, where the invasion has raised fears of further aggression by Moscow.

Washington also announced that U.S. diplomats will be returning to Ukraine this week — initially resuming “day trips” from Poland where they are currently stationed to the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv across the border.

“The increased U.S. presence demonstrates our support for Ukraine and is part of the U.S. commitment to return our diplomats to our Embassy in Kyiv as soon as possible,” the State Department said in a statement.

U.S. diplomats departed the Kyiv embassy nearly two weeks before the Feb. 24 invasion, moving some functions to Lviv before eventually relocating to Poland.

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced millions and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States, by far the world’s two biggest nuclear powers.

The United States has ruled out sending its own or NATO forces to Ukraine but Washington and its European allies have supplied weapons to Kyiv such as drones, Howitzer heavy artillery, anti-aircraft Stinger and anti-tank Javelin missiles.