Biden expected to name veteran diplomat as Ukraine envoy

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member, to discuss the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is expected to nominate career foreign service officer Bridget Brink to serve as his ambassador to Ukraine, according to a U.S. official familiar with the decision.

Brink, currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, will assume the long vacant diplomatic post at a moment when the U.S. and its allies remain on high alert, with some 100,000 Russian troops massed near Ukraine's border.

The State Department last week ordered the families of all American personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to leave the country due to heightened fears of a Russian invasion and said that non-essential embassy staff could leave Ukraine at government expense.

Brink was only recently presented to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's government as Biden's pick and is still being vetted by Kyiv, said the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the choice and spoke on condition of anonymity. It's not clear when Biden will announce the nomination.

Brink previously served as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and has served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassies in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and Tbilisi, Georgia.

The selection was previously reported by CNN and Bloomberg.

The last Senate-approved ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was pushed out of her job in late spring of 2019. Months later, she testified in former President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial that the president's lawyer and informal adviser Rudy Giuliani had pressed Ukrainian officials to investigate unproven corruption allegations related to then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter's business dealings in Ukraine.