By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate unanimously approved veteran diplomat Bridget Brink on Wednesday to be ambassador to Ukraine, filling a critical post that has been vacant for three years as Washington works to increase support for the government in Kyiv.
Brink was approved by unanimous voice vote.
Both President Joe Biden’s fellow Democrats and Republicans had urged Brink’s quick confirmation. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Brink unanimously earlier on Wednesday, after holding her confirmation hearing just two weeks after Biden announced the nomination on April 25.
The quick action underscored the desire from both parties to send an ambassador to support Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as he faces Russia’s invasion. Brink’s Senate confirmation came on the same day that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopened after a three-month closure due to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion.
The Senate also is expected later this week to approve nearly $40 billion in military and humanitarian support for Kyiv, funding that has already passed the House of Representatives.
A Michigan native who speaks Russian, Brink is currently U.S. ambassador to Slovakia. A diplomat for 25 years, she has worked in Uzbekistan and Georgia as well as in several senior positions across the State Department and White House National Security Council.
Brink was also confirmed by unanimous voice vote in 2019, when former Republican President Donald Trump nominated her for the position in Bratislava.
There has not been a U.S. ambassador in Kyiv since May 2019, when Trump abruptly recalled then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Yovanovitch later testified as Trump faced impeachment on charges of withholding military aid to put pressure on Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, then seen as Trump’s most likely opponent in the 2020 election.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Pullin)