President Biden nominated Bridget Brink as the US Ambassador to Ukraine on Monday, which would fill a position that has been vacant for more than a year despite the critical importance of US relations with Ukraine.
The news was forwarded to the Ukrainian government on Sunday when Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken and Defense Minister Lloyd J. Austin III met with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The delegation also said the United States would move to reopen its embassy in Kiev, according to officials.
Mrs Brink’s nomination will end a delay that career diplomats have said would be confusing even in quieter times. Ukraine’s ambassadorship has lacked a full-time staff since 2019, when President Donald J. Trump without ceremony removed Marie L. Yovanovitch. Shortly thereafter, William B. Taylor Jr., a retired veteran diplomat, stepped in on a temporary basis until early 2020. The post has remained empty during the Biden administration, although serious warnings were issued last year that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine.
Ms. Brink has been a foreign service officer for 25 years, mainly focusing on Europe and Eurasia. She was appointed US Ambassador to Slovakia by Mr. Trump in 2019 and has served in two other former Soviet republics: Uzbekistan and Georgia.
“It’s a long way off,” said Mr Taylor, who testified before Congress during the first trial of Mr Trump. “I’m glad it’s finally happening.”
The US mission in Ukraine has been led by the Chargé d’affaires, Kristina A. Kvien, a respected diplomat.
“It’s going to be great to have a Senate-confirmed ambassador out there who clearly has the authority to talk to the president,” he said. Taylor. He added that Mrs Brink was likely to gain the support of two parties in Congress because a large number of Republican senators have supported Mr Biden’s efforts in Ukraine.
If confirmed, Brink will assume its role at a crucial time in US-Ukraine relations. She visited the Ukrainian-Slovak border the day after Russia’s invasion and said she had “closely monitored” the delivery of aid from Slovakia to Ukraine.
The impending return of US diplomats to the embassy in Kiev is expected to be embraced by lawmakers from both parties and also by Ukrainian leaders. “I know American diplomats are eager to come back,” Mr Taylor said. “It is important to be in the capital. It is important to talk to the Ukrainians and listen to the Ukrainians. “
At the same time, he said, “everyone understands the security issues.”
John Ismay, Cora Engelbrecht and Michael Crowley contributed with reporting.