Bridget Brink is Biden’s candidate for US Ambassador to Ukraine

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President Biden plans to nominate Bridget Brink to serve as America’s next ambassador to Ukraine, the White House announced Monday. The move is intended to fill a position that has been officially vacant for three years – and is now even more crucial during the Russian invasion.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said on the heels of a visit to Kiev that Brink, who is currently the US ambassador to Slovakia, is “deeply experienced in the region” and “will be a very strong representative of the United States in Ukraine.”

The announcement came as Blinken and Defense Minister Lloyd Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the first high-level US visit to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began.

Officials said US diplomatic operations would resume this week in Ukraine as a first step towards reopening the US embassy in Kiev. Brink’s “decades of experience make her uniquely suited to this moment in Ukraine’s history,” the State Department said in a statement Monday.

Ukraine has not had a U.S. ambassador since 2019. Brink’s nomination is intended to fill a diplomatic vacuum that has remained since President Donald Trump unequivocally removed Marie Yovanovitch from the post in 2019 – a move that was scrutinized during Trump’s first federal trial.

The United States resumes diplomatic operations in Ukraine

Brink, whose foreign service career spans more than 26 years, is no stranger to escalating tensions in Eastern Europe.

From 2015 to 2018, she served as Assistant Assistant Secretary to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, keeping a close eye on the ongoing tensions within the territory of the former Soviet Union. She also served in Uzbekistan and Georgia, two other former Soviet republics, and served on the White House National Security Council.

Brink supported Slovakia’s accession to NATO in 2004 and became the US Ambassador to the country in 2019, a position she currently holds.

During his swearing-in ceremony in 2019, Brink talked about the importance of watching the Berlin Wall fall in 1989 as a student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She also stressed what she described as a “lasting transatlantic connection” that ran through her family.

Her husband’s grandmother, she said, survived the Manchester Blitz during World War II, while Brink’s own grandfather, a doctor, treated Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was the American commander of the war in Europe.

“According to family history, my grandfather took General Eisenhower’s blood pressure and it was a little high,” Brink said in his speech. “‘General,’ he said, ‘lie down for a few minutes and think happy thoughts.’ He did, and my grandfather was able to report that General Eisenhower passed his physical. The rest, they say, is history. “

As US Ambassador to Slovakia, Brink said her priorities were to “continue our strong cooperation in the defense sector, look for ways to increase trade and investment and speak loud and clear for the common values ​​that support the transatlantic bond.”

“This is a big task, and one lesson I have learned in government is that nothing is ever done alone,” she added.

Moscow has often cited the expansion of the transatlantic alliance closer to Russia’s borders as the justification for the country’s invasion of Ukraine. If confirmed, Brink will have to navigate the challenges of sustaining Western countries’ response to Russia while ensuring that the conflict does not escalate to the point of nuclear war. Russian officials have threatened to move nuclear weapons to the Baltic region if NATO continues to expand.

The pipeline from ambassadorial candidacy to confirmation is often delayed by an unmanageable mix of bureaucracy, politics, and legal requirements. But having already been confirmed by the Senate for her current position could hasten her expected appointment to Ukraine.

Early in the Russian invasion, Brink visited Slovakia’s border with Ukraine, where she said she witnessed the “heartbreaking scene” of refugees fleeing the violence.

“My heart goes out to every victim of this senseless war,” she wrote in a statement.

– Missy Ryan contributed to this report

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