Biden nominates Bridget Brink as US ambassador to Ukraine

Announcement comes two months into Russia’s war in Ukraine and as US returns diplomatic presence

A woman passes by the closed US embassy in Kyiv, on February 15, 2022. AFP

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President Joe Biden is nominating career diplomat Bridget Brink to serve as the next US ambassador to Ukraine, filling a crucial spot after three years of vacancy.

The White House announced the move in a statement on Monday, just as Secretaries of State and Defence Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin visited Ukraine.

They met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the first such high-level US visit to the country since Russia’s invasion on February 24.

Mr Blinken informed Mr Zelenskyy of the nomination and described Ms Brink as someone “deeply experienced in the region”, who “will be a very strong representative for the United States in Ukraine.”

Ms Brink has more than 25 years of experience in the Foreign Service.

Ambassador Bridget Brink. Photo: Department of State via AP

She is currently serving as ambassador to the Slovak Republic, and has also served as deputy chief of mission at the US embassies in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Tbilisi, Georgia. Ms Brink speaks fluent Russian.

The US promised to re-establish its diplomatic presence in Kyiv after moving its operations to Poland at the outset of the war.

Mr Blinken said US diplomats would first return to Lviv in the west, followed by other cities and should eventually be back in Kyiv.

The US has not had an official ambassador to Ukraine since 2019, when former president Donald Trump removed Marie Yovanovitch following complaints from his personal lawyer at the time, Rudy Giuliani.

Ms Brink’s nomination now moves to the Senate for a hearing and a vote on her confirmation.

On Monday, the US announced $165 million in military sales to Ukraine, including various rounds of non-standard ammunition and grenade launchers.

"The proposed sale will improve Ukraine’s capability to meet current and future threats by maintaining the operational readiness of its forces," the State Department said in its notification to Congress of the sale.

The US has also provided Ukraine with more than $3.7 billion worth of weaponry since Russia invaded.

Updated: April 25, 2022, 2:53 PM