The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich has reportedly been recalled and now expected to depart post on or about May 20. This development followed a persistent campaign for her removal among conservative media outlets in the United States as well as allegations by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Lutsenko concerning a do not prosecute list.
The State Department reportedly told RFE/RL on May 6, that Ambassador Yovanovitch “is concluding her 3-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv in 2019 as planned.” And that “her confirmed departure date in May aligns with the presidential transition in Ukraine,” which elected a new president in April.
While that may well be true – she was confirmed in 2016, a 3-year tour is a typical assignment; the new Ukraine president takes office on June 3rd — it is hard to ignore the louder voices calling for the ambassador’s removal from post for political reasons. It doesn’t help that there is no Senate confirmed EUR Assistant Secretary or that the Secretary of State did not see it fit to come forward to defend his top representative in a priority country in Europe.
Ambassador Yovanovich is a career diplomat and a Senate-confirmed Ambassador representing the United States in Ukraine. She previously served as Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia (2008-2011) under President Obama and to the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008) under President George W. Bush. We’ve seen people calling career diplomats “holdovers”. If they were political appointees, they would be called “holdovers” or “burrowers,” but they are career public servants; that term does not apply to them. If some folks insists on calling them “holdovers,” then the least that these folks can do is to accurately enumerate all the public servants’ prior presidential appointments, some going back 30 years at the start of their careers in the diplomatic service.
Perhaps it is helpful to point out that as career appointees, ambassadors like Ambassador Yovanovich do not go freelancing nor do they go rogue; they do not make their own policy concerning their host country. They typically get their marching orders from their home bureau, in this case, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) at the State Department, under the oversight of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, who report to the Secretary of State. And they follow those orders. Even if they disagree with those orders or the administration’s policies. Career diplomats who do not follow their instructions do not have lengthy careers in the diplomatic service.
After all that, if the United States is taking the word of a foreign official over our own ambassador, it’s open season for our career diplomats. Will the “you want a U.S. ambassador kicked out from a specific country go on teevee ” removal campaign going to become a thing now? Will the Secretary of Swagger steps up?
"Ambassador Yovanovitch is a dedicated public servant and a diplomat of the highest caliber who has represented the United States under both Republican and Democratic administrations."
Read the full statement below. https://t.co/cwRUupdz79
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) May 7, 2019
Agreed. Amb Yovanovitch is one of our best. SecState should be protecting his people from this kind of nonsense. https://t.co/q710rG9s0h
— Brian P. McKeon (@bpmckeon64) May 7, 2019
Our story on US Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovitch’s imminent departure: https://t.co/KTuD66iczn
(Again, correcting below tweet, it’s 2016, not 2018.) https://t.co/WuBqQfTIoL
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) May 6, 2019
U.S. State Department denies claim by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko that the U.S. Ambassador to #Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him "a list of people whom we should not prosecute." https://t.co/Do4TDJ67ay pic.twitter.com/gQ5xJri4MQ
— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) March 23, 2019
US ambassador to Ukraine, a career diplomat, is being brought home two months early with no replacement in sight after attacks by Donald Trump Jr. and conservative media outlets. @RobbieGramer @ak_mack https://t.co/4KhcXVeztM
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) May 7, 2019
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 7, 2019
We need more @RichardGrenell’s and less of these jokers as ambassadors.
Calls Grow To Remove Obama's U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine https://t.co/0jgzp1ZqmU
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 24, 2019