Here’s what we know about Bridget Brink

31 May, 02:55 PM
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The new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and US Chargé d’Affaires Kristina A. Kvien (Photo:U.S. Embassy Ukraine via Twitter)

The new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and US Chargé d’Affaires Kristina A. Kvien (Photo:U.S. Embassy Ukraine via Twitter)

The new U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink has started work in Kyiv. She takes up leadership of the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Ukrainian capital, which for three years has been without a permanent U.S. ambassador.

Russia's war against Ukraine - the main events of May 31

Brink arrived in Kyiv on May 29. She has already presented her credentials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, and honored the memory of those who died defending Ukraine at a memorial in the center of Kyiv.

“Our first priority to is help Ukraine defend itsel,” Brink tweeted on May 30

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“On this Memorial Day (observed in the U.S. on May 30 — ed.), I paid my respects to those who have died defending their country, presented my credentials at the (Ukrainian Foreign Ministry), and began discussions on how we can support Ukraine.”

NV sums up what we know about Bridget Brink, who, prior to her appointment to Ukraine, headed the U.S. mission in Slovakia.

Education in the US and Europe

Bridget Brink was born in Michigan but received her bachelor's degree in political science from Kenyon College, Ohio's oldest private college.

Subsequently, she also completed two master's degrees (in international relations and political theory) at the prestigious London School of Economics.

In addition to English, the diplomat speaks Russian and Serbian, as well as basic Georgian and French.

Diplomatic career at the US State Department spanning 26 years

For the past 26 years, Brink has been pursuing a career as a professional diplomat at the U.S. State Department, which she first joined in 1996.

Subsequently, she worked in the most challenging U.S. diplomatic missions in Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

Brink received her first assignment abroad to the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade (now Serbia), where she worked as an employee of the political and consular department in 1997-1999, at the height of the war raging in the Balkans.

According to the diplomat, her experience in Serbia instilled in her "a deep and enduring belief in the importance of a free press, a strong civil society, and a democratic system that operates by the rule of law.”

After Serbia, Brink was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus, where she worked until 2002.

Subsequently, Brink spent several years as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. In this role, she oversaw the issues of Washington's foreign policy relations with the southern European states.

From 2005 to 2008, the diplomat headed the political and economic department of the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi (Georgia), where Russia unleashed a war in 2008.

After that, Brink returned to Washington for several years, where she was appointed deputy director of the Office of South Central European Affairs at the U.S. State Department. During the same period, when Barack Obama was president of the United States, she joined the National Security Council as the coordinator of the development of Washington's relations with the countries of the Aegean Sea and the South Caucasus (Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia).

In 2011, Brink returned to Georgia again – this time as the deputy head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Tbilisi. Then she was transferred to a similar position at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), where Brink worked in 2014-2015. The diplomat left Uzbekistan in 2015 when she was appointed deputy assistant to the U.S. secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. In this role, she was responsible for protracted conflicts in Europe, as well as U.S. relations with Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Ambassador to Slovakia

Finally, in May 2019, Brink was appointed U.S. Ambassador for the first time – Donald Trump entrusted her to represent the United States in Slovakia. Brink was in Bratislava right up to her appointment as the head of the diplomatic mission in Ukraine.

Long before her appointment as U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, she actively supported the country's accession to NATO in 2002-2004 (Slovakia became a member of the Alliance on March 29, 2004). Brink also noted that strengthening transatlantic ties has been one of the focuses of her entire career.

Appointment to Ukraine after a three-year absence of US ambassador

The post of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was vacant for three years after Donald Trump recalled Marie Yovanovitch from the post of head of the diplomatic mission in Kyiv in May 2019 in response to slander by his infamous lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

During this period, the U.S. diplomatic mission was headed by Kristina Kvien, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Ukraine. For some time, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor Jr. worked in a similar role before her.

The delay in the appointment of an ambassador to Ukraine was considered by experienced U.S. diplomats and experts in the field of relations with Eastern Europe to be a serious blunder of the Biden administration. In a comment to Foreign Policy, Ambassador Taylor called this mistake on the part of the White House "inexcusable."

On December 7, 2021, it became known that U.S. President Joe Biden may soon appoint Bridget Brink as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

Kyiv received Washington’s request to appoint Brink as Ambassador to Ukraine at the end of January 2022. This information was confirmed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine slowed down the process as the U.S. diplomatic mission was transferred to Lviv, and then left Ukraine entirely.

Finally, on April 24, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, during his visit to Kyiv and meeting with Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Biden was ready to appoint Brink as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Blinken recalled that she is "deeply experienced in this region," while the U.S. State Department added that Brink’s "decades of experience make her uniquely suited for this moment in Ukraine’s history." At the same time, Blinken personally assured Zelensky that American diplomats were ready to return to work in Ukraine.

On April 25, U.S. President Joe Biden officially nominated Bridget Brink for the post of Ambassador to Ukraine.

Ambassador Brink was appointed by President Biden as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine on April 25, 2022, approved unanimously by the U.S. Senate on May 18, 2022, and arrived in Kyiv on May 29, 2022," Brink's biography on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine reads.

On May 18, 2022, the U.S. Embassy resumed work in Kyiv. “We stand proudly with, and continue to support, the government and people of Ukraine as they defend their country from the Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression. We are committed to confronting the challenges ahead. (…) We affirm our commitment to the people and government of Ukraine, and we look forward to carrying out our mission from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv,” the U.S. State Department said.

On the same day, May 18, the U.S. Senate unanimously endorsed Brink's candidacy, appointing her U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

Leaving the post of U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Ukraine, Kristina Kvien, in her farewell interview with NV, assured that the new ambassador would be an effective diplomat in Kyiv.

“I've known Bridget for about 15 years, when she and I worked together, when I was at the National Security Council and at the White House. She's terrific. She's energetic. She's smart. She's very pro-Ukrainian. And she's a strong advocate for Ukraine, and for Western integration for Ukraine. I think she'll be a terrific ambassador, and I think that you'll enjoy working with her,” Kvien said.

She also expressed confidence that Brink would become "a strong advocate of Ukraine, both in contacts with the Ukrainian authorities and with the U.S. government."

“And she is also a really great mediator in terms of establishing ties in American-Ukrainian relations,” Kvien concluded.

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