Bridget Brink, unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate this week as the American ambassador to Ukraine, is a veteran diplomat, fluent Russian speaker and Michigan native with wide experience in European countries buffeted by Soviet subjugation and the legacy of the Cold War.
In 2019, at her swearing-in ceremony for her current role as ambassador to Slovakia, Ms. Brink stressed her family’s European links and her personal ties to Europe, noting that she had been a student in London in 1989 on the day when the Berlin Wall fell.
A graduate of the London School of Economics, where she earned master’s degrees in international relations and political theory, Ambassador Brink joined the State Department in 1996 and has served, among other places, in Cyprus, Serbia, as well as in Uzbekistan and Georgia, two former Soviet republics.
She is the mother of two boys, and her husband, Nicholas Higgins, also works for the U.S. foreign service.
In her new role, Ms. Brink fills a position that has been empty for three years. Her confirmation came just hours after the United States reopened its embassy in Kyiv after a three-month closure, underlining how the war-battered Ukrainian capital is gradually returning to some semblance of normalcy after Russian forces failed to seize it, albeit with a very fragile sense of security.
Ms. Brink’s conformation will further strengthen relations between Washington and Kyiv, but the return of high-profile American diplomats to the country, even to western and central cities hours from the front lines, inevitably comes with a degree of danger.
Ms. Brink is the first Senate-confirmed ambassador to hold the post since mid-2019, when President Donald J. Trump removed Marie L. Yovanovitch, a career diplomat and anti-corruption advocate who was criticized by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and his associates as Mr. Giuliani tried to dig up dirt in the country on Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter.
In February, Ms. Brink visited the border between Ukraine and Slovakia to witness the arrival of Ukrainian refugees. “My heart is with every victim of this senseless war,” she said, according to a State Department news release.
Her family has long links to Europe.
She recalled, at her 2019 swearing-in as Slovakia’s ambassador, that her grandfather Donald Brink, according to family lore, played a role in clearing the way for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s promotion to being a four-star general before he became architect of the Normandy invasion, which helped clear the way for ending World War II.
Ms. Brink said that during the war, her grandfather, a U.S. Army doctor, treated Mr. Eisenhower, one of several doctors who gave him a physical to determine his eligibility for promotion for his fourth star.
“According to family lore, my grandfather took General Eisenhower’s blood pressure, and it was a bit high,” she recalled. “‘General,’ he said, ‘Lie down for a few minutes and think happy thoughts.’ He did, and my grandfather was able to report that General Eisenhower passed his physical,” Ms. Brink explained. “The rest, so they say, is history.”
She also observed that she had links to Europe via her husband’s family. “Almost 80 years ago, my husband’s grandmother Ada McIntyre survived the Blitz in Manchester while her husband, Bernard McIntyre, bravely helped evacuate the soldiers trapped in Dunkirk as a member of the Royal Navy,” she explained.