Bridget Brink named as US ambassador to Ukraine

Apr 24, 2022, 10:52 PM | Updated: Apr 26, 2022, 10:15 am
This official undated portrait provided by the U.S. Department of State, shows Ambassador Bridget B...

This official undated portrait provided by the U.S. Department of State, shows Ambassador Bridget Brink. President Joe Biden announced on Monday his nomination of Bridget Brink to serve as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Brink, a career foreign service officer, has served since 2019 as ambassador to Slovakia. She previously held assignments in Serbia, Cyprus, Georgia and Uzbekistan as well as with the White House National Security Council. The post requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.(U.S. Department of State via AP)

(U.S. Department of State via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bridget Brink, a veteran foreign service officer who has spent most of her career in the shadow of the former Soviet Union, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as the country fends off a Russian invasion that’s entered its third month.

The nomination comes as U.S. officials say American diplomats will soon return to Kyiv, which they evacuated when the war began. Ukrainian forces have since successfully defended the city, and most of the fighting has shifted toward the eastern part of the country.

Daniel Fried, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland who has known Brink for years, described her as “not reckless, but fearless,” and expected she’ll be eager to get to Kyiv.

“She’s going to want to be there,” Fried said. “And if you tell her it’s dangerous, she’ll be like, ‘Yeah, so?'”

A hockey fan and mother of two boys, Brink is currently the ambassador to Slovakia. She’s married to another foreign service officer, Nicholas Higgins, who has worked around the world.

Biden’s choice of Brink comes after a lengthy delay. Although the president has moved to fill other diplomatic posts around the world, he waited more than a year after taking office before settling on Brink, then nearly three more months for Monday’s announcement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Brink’s nomination is “terrific news at a critical moment.” He added that the Senate “will prioritize her confirmation.”

Although Brink earned praise from some Republicans, others have questioned why it took so long to name her.

Suzanne Wrasse, a spokeswoman for Sen. Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said he’s been calling on the president to nominate someone for months. She said Risch wants the administration to “get her paperwork together so we can move quickly.”

A White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly said decisions about nominations are complex, involving extensive vetting and agreements with the country hosting the ambassador.

Even though former U.S. officials with European expertise have been puzzled by the lag, they were encouraged by Biden’s decision.

“People respect her,” Fried said. “They like her.”

Brink’s first posting was in Belgrade, Serbia, where she served during the war in the Balkans that lasted from 1998 to 1999. She also worked in Tbilisi, Georgia, before the Russian invasion in 2008.

While based in Washington, she worked on European issues at the National Security Council and the State Department.

Brink was nominated by then-President Donald Trump to be ambassador to Slovakia. During her swearing in ceremony in 2019, she shared a piece of “family lore” about her grandfather, who served as a U.S. Army doctor and helped evaluate General Dwight Eisenhower when he was up for a promotion during World War II. As the story goes, Brink said, Eisenhower’s blood pressure “was a bit high,” and her grandfather encouraged him to “lie down for a few minutes and think happy thoughts.”

Eisenhower passed his physical, earned his fourth star and led the invasion of Normandy that helped end the war.

Ukraine and Slovakia share a border of roughly 60 miles, and Slovakia has played an important role in the ongoing conflict. The country provided a S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, and it has accepted refugees fleeing the Russian invasion.

Brink met with people at the border when the invasion began.

“Amidst the heartbreaking scene of Ukrainian women and children crossing the border with Slovakia on foot, is incredible and professional work being done by Slovaks to welcome people escaping hostilities,” she said in a statement at the time.

The relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine has expanded and become more complex since the war began. Biden is in regular contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and billions of dollars in military and economic assistance are flowing from Washington to Kyiv. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin just visited the Ukrainian capital as well.

Fried said there remains a vital role for Brink to play. Since she’ll be based in the country, she can build ties throughout the Ukrainian government. And it doesn’t hurt that Kyiv is seven hours ahead of Washington, Fried said, meaning Brink can help set the pace for the administration.

“She’ll be able to do what any ambassador does with the time advantage,” he said. “When Washington wakes up, you tell them what to do and how to do it.”

William Courtney, a former U.S. ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan, said Brink will have to start planning for postwar reconstruction even as the fighting continues.

Some of that work will involve seeking new policies within Ukraine, which has a long history of entrenched corruption that could make rich nations hesitate to open their pocketbooks.

“You want to have the institutions in place that can make reconstruction more effective,” said Courtney, an adjunct senior fellow at the RAND corporation. “And that builds confidence among donors.”

The last Senate-approved ambassador to Ukraine was Marie Yovanovitch, who was pushed out by then-President Trump in 2019.

She later testified that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer and unofficial advisor, had urged Ukrainian officials to investigate unproven corruption allegations against Joe Biden, then a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Biden’s son, Hunter, had worked for an energy company in Ukraine named Burisma.

Trump held back $400 million in military assistance for Ukraine as he was pressing for investigations, conduct for which he was later impeached by the House of Representatives. He was not convicted in the Senate.

__

Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, on Nov. 5, 2020. In a Friday...
Associated Press

Archives: Records from Trump WH staffers remain missing

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Archives and Records Administration informed lawmakers that a number of electronic communications from Trump White House staffers remain missing, nearly two years since the administration was required to turn them over. The nation’s record-keeping agency, in a letter Friday to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, said that despite […]
17 hours ago
Women work in fields near the windmill farm in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh, India, Wednesday...
Associated Press

What the war in Ukraine means for Asia’s climate goals

NEW DELHI, India (AP) — The queues outside petrol pumps in Sri Lanka have lessened, but not the anxiety. Asanka Sampath, a 43-year-old factory clerk, is forever vigilant. He checks his phone for messages, walks past the pump, and browses social media to see if fuel has arrived. Delays could mean being left stranded for […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Hundreds of cars pack Nevada streets for illegal stunts

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Thousands of people in hundreds of cars took over northern Nevada parking lots and intersections Friday night and into Saturday, performing stunts in souped-up vehicles and leading to crashes and arrests, police said. Police beefed up nighttime staffing after social media posts urged people from San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, to […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Moose back on the loose after rescuers free it from fence

BARKHAMSTED, Conn. (AP) — A moose is back on the loose in Connecticut after some quick-acting rescuers helped to free it from a fence. The Connecticut State Environmental Police received a call at around midnight about a moose stuck in Barkhamsted, northwest of Hartford. Local fire department personnel and state police responded early Saturday to […]
17 hours ago
This booking photo provided by the El Paso, Texas, County Sheriff's Office shows Michael Sheppard, ...
Associated Press

Migrant-death suspect ran detention center accused of abuse

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One of two Texas brothers who authorities say opened fire on a group of migrants getting water near the U.S.-Mexico border, killing one and injuring another, was warden at a detention facility with a history of abuse allegations. The shooting happened Tuesday in rural Hudspeth County about 90 miles (145 kilometers) […]
17 hours ago
FILE - People visit a makeshift memorial honoring the victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting in...
Associated Press

Vegas survivors signal hope even as mass shootings persist

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It’s been five years since carnage and death sent his family running into the night, leaving them separated and terrified as a gunman rained bullets into an outdoor country music festival crowd on the Las Vegas Strip. The memories don’t fade, they sharpen, William “Bill” Henning said as he prepared for […]
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Bridget Brink named as US ambassador to Ukraine