Senate Unanimously Confirms New Ambassador to Ukraine as US Reopens Embassy in Kyiv

America's top diplomatic post in Ukraine has been empty since 2019, when Marie Yovanovitch was fired by then-President Donald Trump

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Bridget Brink at a press conference. The US call on Azerbaijan to hold free and fair elections in accordance with its Constitution and international obligations.
Bridget Brink. Photo: Aziz Karimov/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

The Senate has unanimously confirmed a new U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, with Bridget Brink's Wednesday confirmation coming the same day the U.S. reopened its embassy in Kyiv.

Brink, who has a 25-year career in the foreign service, previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, a role for which she was nominated by former President Donald Trump.

In April, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the veteran diplomat for the role at a time when the European country is in crisis amid the Russian invasion.

According to a statement sent by the White House, Brink — who is originally from Michigan — holds master's degrees in international relations and political theory from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as a bachelor's degree in political science from Kenyon College. A multi-linguist, as is de rigueur for her trade, she speaks Russian and has studied Slovak, Serbian, Georgian and French.

America's top diplomatic post in Ukraine has been empty since 2019, when Marie Yovanovitch was fired by then-President Trump. (He has not shied away from publicly criticizing her, once tweeting, "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.")

Yovanovitch made national headlines when she later testified at Trump's first impeachment trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection with his Ukraine scandal.

The U.S. also announced this week it had reopened the American embassy in Kyiv, which had closed after Russian forces invaded the region in late February.

American diplomats have been working mostly in Poland since the war in Ukraine began until Wednesday, when the American flag was once again raised over the embassy.

"Today we are officially resuming operations at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv," Sec. of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. "The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia's unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again. 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."

Blinken added that the department had "put forward additional measures to increase the safety of our colleagues who are returning to Kyiv and have enhanced our security measures and protocols."

Still, he acknowledged, "The war rages on."

"Russia's forces inflict death and destruction on Ukrainian soil every day," Blinken said in the statement. "Millions of Ukrainians are displaced from their homes and mourn the loss of their loved ones. With strength of purpose, we reaffirm 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 invasion has so far displaced millions and killed or wounded thousands of civilians after Russia's forces launched their large-scale invasion on Feb. 24, marking the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.

More than 5 million have fled the country as refugees — and half are children, according to the United Nations.

The invasion, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.

Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy vowed not to bend.

"Nobody is going to break us, we're strong, we're Ukrainians," he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, "Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness."

The Russian attack on Ukraine is an evolving story, with information changing quickly. Follow PEOPLE's complete coverage of the war here, including stories from citizens on the ground and ways to help.

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