Puzzle in the Ukrainian crisis: where is the US ambassador?

Some diplomats and pundits have speculated that the White House has little appetite for a Senate confirmation hearing that could escalate into a debate over Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany to which members of both parties blamed Mr Biden for not opposing more. vigorously. Republicans could also use a confirmation hearing to elucidate the past business activities in Ukraine of Mr Biden’s son, Hunter, although a Republican Senate official said he was not aware of any plans in that regard. sense.

It’s also unclear why Ukraine may not have immediately endorsed Ms Brink, a foreign service officer for more than two decades who served in two other former Soviet republics, Uzbekistan and Georgia.

Mr. Zelensky’s office has consolidated much of its foreign policy activity with his chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, who speaks regularly with Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, in what is become the center of gravity of the US-Ukrainian relationship. Ukrainians may prefer it to stay that way.

In recent years, Ukrainian officials have also seen US ambassadors as condescending reprimands who continually issue statements and call meetings to berate Ukrainian elites for insider trading and failures of good governance.

And then there is the memory of the Trump years, and the dismissal of Mrs. Yovanovitch. In the events leading up to his impeachment, Mr. Trump, hoping to harm Mr. Biden ahead of the 2020 election, used US military aid to pressure Mr. Zelensky into investigation into Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy company, according to testimony in impeachment hearings. .

In April 2019, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani, persuaded the president to remove Ms. Yovanovitch from her post after she objected to Mr. Giuliani’s efforts there to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. (No evidence of wrongdoing was found on the part of Hunter Biden or his father. Mr. Trump denied doing anything improper and was acquitted in his Senate trial.)

In a reminder that the stance can become entangled in Ukraine’s contentious domestic politics, some Ukrainian officials encouraged Mr Giuliani’s opposition to Ms Yovanovitch because his focus on anti-corruption initiatives threatened their interests. The country’s top prosecutor at the time, Yuriy Lutsenko, called Ms Yovanovitch an “idiot” in a text message to an associate, according to evidence released during the impeachment proceedings.

Christi C. Elwood