Thursday, December 8, 2022

US media: Bridget Brink to become ambassador to Ukraine

by Oleg SukhovFebruary 1, 2022 11:07 pm
U.S. Ambassador to Slovakia Bridget Brink. (U.S. Embassy in Slovakia)

U.S. President Joe Biden is planning to nominate Bridget Brink as the ambassador to Ukraine, Bloomberg and CNN reported on Jan. 31, citing their sources. The Department of State has not yet confirmed the reports.

Brink currently heads the U.S. embassy in Bratislava. She has been appointed to this role in August 2019.

Brink joined the U.S. State Department in 1996 taking on various roles in foreign emissaries. She first served as a consular political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and later took on various diplomatic jobs in Georgia, Uzbekistan and Slovakia. She also held positions at the Department of State and the National Security Council.

Despite Ukraine's importance as a European nation fighting a war against Russian invaders, the country hasn't had a U.S. ambassador since 2019.

Ex-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was removed from her post in May 2019, after being dragged into the impeachment hearings of former U.S. President Donald Trump and coming under attack from U.S. right-wing media and politicians. The attacks were assisted by then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.

Since Yovanovitch's dismissal ahead of schedule, Ukraine has been without an ambassador. The U.S. embassy was led briefly by Charge D'Affaires Kristina Kvien and later William Taylor, who previously served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in 2006-2009.

Since Jan. 1, 2020, the embassy has been again led by Kvien.

The last attempt to nominate an ambassador to Ukraine occurred in May 2020, when Trump nominated retired army general Keith Dayton. Being a political nominee, Dayton failed to pass Congress after Trump lost the 2020 presidential election to Biden.

On Jan. 19, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that an ambassador to Ukraine would be appointed “shortly.”

Removal of Marie Yovanovitch

The last U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch, was ousted following a targeted smear campaign.

In the U.S., critics have accused Yovanovitch of having an anti-Trump bias. In Ukraine, Lutsenko claimed that she handed him a list of Ukrainians the country should not prosecute — a claim the State Department has vehemently denied. No evidence has been offered in support of these accusations.

In November 2019, Yovanovitch testified before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, saying that she got fired because her strong anti-corruption stance angered Lutsenko and other Ukrainians. Those Ukrainians teamed with Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and Trump's personal lawyer, to oust her.

"Ukrainians who preferred to play by the old, corrupt rules sought to remove me," said Yovanovitch. "What continues to amaze me is that they found Americans willing to partner with them and, working together, they apparently succeeded in orchestrating the removal of a U.S. ambassador."

Democrats in the U.S. Congress have called Yovanovitch’s removal a “political hit job.”

Months after Yovanovitch's was removed from office, then-President Trump and his associate Giuliani famously tried to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to begin an investigation against the family of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden. Shortly before making the demand, Trump froze a $400-million military aid package that Congress designated for Ukraine.

After a whistleblower complaint revealed the subject of his phone call with Zelensky, Trump was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Dec. 18 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

He was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on Feb. 5, 2020.

Oleg Sukhov
Oleg Sukhov
Political reporter

Oleg Sukhov is a political reporter at the Kyiv Independent. He is a former editor and reporter at the Moscow Times. He has a master's degree in history from the Moscow State University. He moved to Ukraine in 2014 due to the crackdown on independent media in Russia and covered war, corruption, reforms and law enforcement for the Kyiv Post.

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