President Biden on Monday nominated Bridget Brink as the US ambassador to Ukraine, who would fill a position that has been vacant for more than a year, despite the critical importance of the US relationship with Ukraine.
The news was passed to the Ukrainian government on Sunday when Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III met President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The delegation also said the United States would move to reopen its embassy in Kiev, officials said.
Ms Brink’s appointment will end a delay that career diplomats said would be baffling even in calmer times. Ukraine’s ambassadorship has not had a full-time resident since 2019, when President Donald J. Trump unceremoniously removed Marie L. Yovanovitch. Shortly thereafter, William B. Taylor Jr., a retired veteran diplomat, entered on a temporary basis until early 2020. The post remained vacant during the Biden administration, even when dire warnings were issued last year that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine. .
Ms Brink has been an officer of Foreign Affairs for 25 years, mainly focused on Europe and Eurasia. She was appointed by Mr. Trump as US Ambassador to Slovakia in 2019 and has served in two other former Soviet republics: Uzbekistan and Georgia.
“It’s a long time coming,” said Mr. Taylor, who testified before Congress at the first hearing on Mr. Trump. “I’m glad it’s finally happening.”
The US mission in Ukraine was led by Chargé d’affaires Kristina A. Kvien, a respected diplomat.
“It will be great to have a Senate-confirmed ambassador who clearly has the authority to speak with the president,” said Mr. Taylor. He added that Ms. Brink would likely have bipartisan support in Congress, as a large number of Republican senators have backed Mr. Biden’s efforts on Ukraine.
If confirmed, Ms. Brink will assume her role at a pivotal time in US-Ukraine relations. She visited the Ukrainian-Slovak border the day after the Russian invasion and said she had “closely monitored” Slovakia’s aid to Ukraine.
The imminent return of US diplomats to the embassy in Kiev is expected to be embraced by lawmakers from both sides as well as Ukrainian leaders. “I know American diplomats would like to go back,” Taylor said. “It’s important to be in the capital. It is important to talk to the Ukrainians and listen to the Ukrainians.”
At the same time, he said: “Everyone understands the security issues.”
John Ismay† Cora Engelbrecht and Michael Crowley reporting contributed.