Wednesday, November 30, 2022

New US ambassador to Ukraine pledges 'steadfast commitment' to help war-torn country defend its sovereignty

by Asami TerajimaJune 2, 2022 10:21 pm
Bridget Brink, the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, speaks to the crowd of reporters in front of St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv on June 2, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin/The Kyiv Independent)

At her first press conference as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink pledged to maintain Washington’s “steadfast commitment” to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty.

Brink, who was nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden in late April and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on May 18, arrived in war-torn Ukraine in late May to fill a crucial position that was vacant for nearly three years.

After presenting her credentials to President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 2, Brink held a press conference in downtown Kyiv.

Speaking in front of reporters, the career diplomat, who served as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia until recently, announced five objectives that she will be working toward with her team at the Kyiv embassy. 

New U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink speaks about her objectives in front of St. Sophia Cathedral in Kyiv on June 2, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin/The Kyiv Independent)

The first objective, she said, is “to help Ukraine prevail against Russian aggression.” 

Quoting Biden, who described that it’s not only the right thing to do but “in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right,” Brink reaffirmed Washington’s support for Ukraine. 

“There is no place on the planet that I would rather be than joining my team helping Ukraine prevail,” Brink said. 

Another objective mentioned by the new ambassador was to make sure that “the world put Russia to account for atrocities and war crimes.” 

Underscoring the importance of Ukraine’s fight for its independence not only to Europe but also to the U.S., Brink also promised that Washington will be there to help rebuild the country when the time comes. 

Bridget Brink is the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, a position that was vacant for nearly three years. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin/The Kyiv Independent)

Other objectives included overseeing U.S. assistance and making sure that humanitarian aid is getting to where they are needed. Brink also hopes to “rebuild embassy platform and bring our team back together.” 

Ahead of Russia’s full-scale invasion, the U.S. and many other countries pulled diplomats and moved embassies and consulates from Kyiv to Lviv, a regional capital in the west of Ukraine. But as countries began reopening their embassies in Ukraine’s capital, the U.S. followed suit on May 18. 

“Our unwavering position in all of these goals is that Ukraine should decide its own future,” Brink said. 

Bridget Brink, the new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, walks toward the crowd of journalists for a press conference in downtown Kyiv on June 2, 2022. (Kostyantyn Chernichkin/The Kyiv Independent)

The new ambassador’s speech came as the White House unveiled the latest round of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The sanctions, issued by the Treasury and State Departments, take aim at more Russian elites and their luxury assets, including yachts and aircraft belonging to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s associates. 

Among the targeted are Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova and Sergei Roldugin, who is called “a custodian” of Putin’s offshore wealth. 

The Commerce Department has also issued new sanctions to restrict Moscow’s ability to secure military technologies. 

The latest deterrent is designed "to crack down on evasion and tighten our sanctions to enhance enforcement and increase pressure on Putin and his enablers,” the White House said in a statement. 

Alongside repeated rounds of sanctions, the U.S. has also been Ukraine's biggest provider of military assistance. The country has provided more than $53 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

While announcing a new $700 million weapons package for Ukraine on June 1, Biden reaffirmed that "the U.S. will stand with our Ukrainian partners and continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself."

Asami Terajima
Asami Terajima
National reporter

Asami Terajima is a national reporter at the Kyiv Independent. She previously worked as a business reporter for the Kyiv Post focusing on international trade, infrastructure, investment and energy.

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