Victoria Nuland is leaving, but are the New Times of US foreign policy coming?

9:58 10.03.2024 •

Victoria Nuland is on a visit to Ukraine.
Photo: EPA

Victoria Nuland, key State Dept. leader, to exit Biden administration. A longtime diplomat, Nuland was known for her tough approach to Russia, and the Kremlin demonized her for it, notes ‘The Washington Post’.

One of the Biden administration’s toughest Russia hawks and the State Department’s third-ranking official, Victoria Nuland, plans to retire within weeks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, leaving a gap in the top ranks of U.S. diplomacy as crises in the Middle East and Ukraine threaten to become broader conflagrations.

Nuland, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, previously served as the department’s top Europe-focused diplomat during the Obama administration and was broadly popular among the agency’s rank and file. Inside a strait-laced bureaucracy that sometimes rewards blandness and caution, she stood out for her unvarnished opinions and tough approach to the Kremlin, which demonized her.

Nevertheless, Victoria Nuland once said that she could understand Russian culture better after she had worked with Russian fishermen in her 20s. According to Nuland, a joint US-Soviet enterprise allowed American sailors to fish in the 20-mile zone and deliver the catch to Soviet sailors, who were not allowed to fish in that part of the sea.

Nuland when sailed on Soviet fishing vessels – on the left. Nuland these days at State Department – on the right:

Nuland, who had served under Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott in President Bill Clinton's administration in the 1990s, was a favorite of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ran European and Eurasian affairs as assistant secretary of state under Hillary Clinton's successor, John Kerry.

Nuland had served as the department’s No. 2 official, the acting deputy secretary of state, for seven months starting last year following the retirement of Wendy Sherman. She was considered a leading candidate to take over the post, but she lost an intra-administration fight to be named permanently to the job to Kurt Campbell (photo), formerly the White House’s top Asia strategist who was confirmed last month. President Biden’s decision was one of the factors in her departure. Campbell was confirmed by the Senate on February 6.

Nuland served in Moscow in the 1990s and was later the U.S. ambassador to NATO before becoming the State Department spokeswoman under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. As the top U.S. diplomat for European affairs, she played an active role in U.S. diplomacy in Kyiv as protests against its Kremlin-friendly leader seized the country in late 2013, making her a focus of Russian frustration. Memorably, she handed out cookies and bread to encamped protesters on Kyiv’s central Maidan before the toppling of its then-president.

Nuland left the State Department in early 2017 after Donald Trump became president, then returned to the No. 3 job in 2021.

The Russian Foreign Ministry jumped on Nuland’s departure, declaring it a sign that U.S. policy toward Russia was a failure.

NYT: Victoria Nuland, “Russia Hawk”, to leave the State Department

A hard-charging diplomat and determined advocate of supporting Ukraine will step down from the department’s No. 3 post, writes ‘The New York Times’.

Ms. Nuland held numerous State Department positions, including spokeswoman, and once served as deputy national security adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. But she made her mark as a Russia specialist who long argued for marshaling strong resistance to Moscow ‘territorial ambitions’ and foreign political influence.

As the State Department’s top Russia official during the Obama administration, she argued unsuccessfully for arming Ukraine with antitank missiles, and during the Biden administration has been among the biggest proponents of sending Ukraine more and better U.S. weapons.

She became more widely known in 2014 after referring with an expletive to the European Union in a phone call about Ukrainian politics that was recorded and leaked.

During the Biden administration, Ms. Nuland became a lightning rod for skeptics of U.S. support for Ukraine. “Nobody is pushing this war more than Nuland,” the Tesla co-founder Elon Musk wrote on the social media site X last February.

Russian officials and media outlets constantly recall the way Ms. Nuland, then the U.S. assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, distributed food to protesters in Kyiv’s central square in early 2014 who eventually toppled Ukraine’s Kremlin-backed leader.

“A coup against the government happened in Ukraine in 2014 after under secretary of state Victoria Nuland handed out cookies to terrorists,” the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Afterwards Ms. Nuland has said she passed out ‘sandwiches’, not ‘cookies’, although these were really cookies – one can see them at the historical photograph:

Ms. Nuland spoke publicly last month about the future of Ukraine, the country in which she had invested many hundreds of hours of her life.

“If Putin wins in Ukraine, he will not stop there,” she warned in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Mr. Putin “thinks he can wait out all of us,” she said. “We need to prove him wrong.”

Photo: Newsweek

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, a driving force in keeping Ukraine at war with Russia, announced her resignation because she was passed over for further promotion in favor of Kurt Campbell, James Carden, ex-US diplomat and former State Department consultant on US-Russia relations, told Sputnik. "I was actually surprised she stayed this long," Carden said.

Nuland was also feeling the heat for the disastrous failure of her long-term war-mongering policies in support of Ukraine, Carden suggested.

The "long shot reason [for Nuland's resignation is that] she is taking the fall for the disastrous US-Ukraine policies that steered them into an awful, avoidable war," Carden commented, though he added, "But I doubt it."

However, Nuland's departure will not result in any significant change in the Biden administration's continued determination to support Ukraine and confront Russia, Carden advised.

"Will it make any difference? None whatsoever. The uni-party rules. She did harm, but she was not alone," he said.

Only two weeks ago, at a public meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Nuland expressed her continued support for more massive US military aid to Ukraine and predicted that Ukrainian forces would have major battlefield successes against Russia in new offensives later this year.

Victoria Nuland was the Kremlin’s ‘princess of darkness’

Victoria Nuland was the Kremlin’s princess of darkness. The departing State Department official was always ready to speak her mind, especially when it came to Russia’s malign intentions, writes ‘The Spectator’.

But Nuland was never a dominant force in the Biden administration. National security advisor Jake Sullivan has presided over Ukraine policy, including the cautious disbursement of lethal weaponry to Kyiv, a sore spot for the hawks who believe that a more aggressive posture would have avoided the current stalemate that has taken place on the front-lines. Rather than select Nuland, Biden named Kurt Campbell, a key official on the NSC, to assume the number two post at the State Department which had been held by Wendy Sherman. Campbell is best known for pushing America to pivot to Asia.

So will his ascension signify a diminution in the Biden administration’s willingness to support Ukraine, particularly with the House Republicans stymieing the passage of an aid package to Ukraine? Probably not.

Biden himself is invested in Ukraine’s success and the NSC, not the State Department, will continue to guide policy toward Kyiv. Nuland may be departing, but her stern approach toward Russia has become the credo of Biden and his cohort.

Nuland, US Ambassador Tefft and company enjoy dumplings in a Moscow restaurant.
Photo: US Embassy in Moscow

In a surprise development, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland to retire from the foreign service. The resignation of the US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, the third highest ranking diplomat in the Biden administration, came as a bolt out of the blue, notes M.K. Bhadrakumar, Indian Ambassador and prominent international observer.

The general impression of Nuland is of an inveterate ‘hawk’ and Russophobe fired up by neoconservative ideology and American exceptionalism who precipitated the Russian intervention in Ukraine and is largely responsible for fuelling the ongoing war. Of course, there is no denying that Nuland played a key role in the regime change in Kyiv 10 years ago.

Nuland has had a big role in the life of Ukraine and we can only guess the massive dimensions of it. Indeed, she publicly celebrated the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, which broke the umbilical cord tying Germany to a geopolitical alliance with Russia. Last month, after a sudden visit to Kyiv, Nuland promised some nasty surprises waiting in store for the Kremlin in the Ukraine war.

Was it the idea of combat deployment in Ukraine by NATO countries she was referring to? There are no easy answers. Well, belatedly at least, White House has intervened twice to assert that putting American troops on the ground in Ukraine is a no-go area.

The point is, it is entirely conceivable that Nuland’s exit could be a reflection of the collapse of the whole architecture of the US’ Ukraine strategy, which she designed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has emphatically stated that the development is to be attributed solely to the failure of the US’ anti-Russia policies: “They [American side] won’t tell you the reason. But it is simple: the failure of the anti-Russian policies of the Biden administration. Russophobia, which was proposed by Victoria Nuland as the main US foreign policy concept, is making the Democrats sink like a stone.”


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