William B. Taylor, who served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from May 2006 to May 2009, has returned as chargé d’affaires, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine announced today.
“He will lead our team during this period of historic elections and transition,” the U.S. Embassy statement said. “Ambassador Taylor brings a wealth of diplomatic experience to our team during this important moment in U.S.-Ukraine relations. He served as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine from 2006 to 2009 and has also served as the State Department’s special coordinator for Middle East Transitions, the U.S. representative to the Mideast Quartet, and in other diplomatic roles. Most recently, he was executive vice president at the U.S. Institute of Peace.”
Taylor said: “I look forward to leading the U.S. Embassy team in building strong working relationships with President (Volodymyr) Zelensky and his team, other Ukrainian officials and political forces, and in maintaining our strong partnerships with civil society organizations and the Ukrainian people,” Taylor said. “The United States remains deeply committed to the success of a stable, prosperous, democratic and free Ukraine, and we continue to stand in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Kristina Kvien, who has been leading the embassy recently as chargé d’affaires after the departure of U.S. Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, will resume her assignment as deputy chief of mission. The U.S. has had nine ambassadors since Ukraine’s independence in 1991. They are listed here.
After the election of Zelensky on April 21, Taylor wrote this opinion on the U.S. Institute for Peace website headlined: “Ukraine just held a political earthquake. Here’s how to respond.”
The initial reaction was positive.
Morgan Williams, president of the 200-member U.S.-Ukraine Business Council to which the Kyiv Post belongs, said: “The members of the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council are very pleased that Ambassador William Taylor has returned to Ukraine to lead the U.S. Embassy. This is outstanding news for the entire private business community. USUBC has worked closely with Ambassador Taylor for many years. He is a strong advocate of the private business sector and has supported programs to expand rapidly economic development in Ukraine. For the last nine years, the ambassador has served as a senior advisor to the U.S.-Ukraine Business Council. Taylor’s appointment is great for the USA and for the people of Ukraine.”
Timothy Ash, a London-based analyst of Ukraine’s economic and political life, said Taylor “understands Ukraine well, so will hit the floor running.” He said it is important that Ukraine has someone of his stature “quickly in place,” given the “long-winded Senate confirmation process” for permanent ambassadors.
“He’s a great choice for now,” said David J. Kramer, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.
Anders Aslund, the Swedish economist who is a fellow with the Atlantic Council, said: “This is excellent news. Taylor was a very effective and heavyweight U.S. ambassador here in 2006-2009. He has stayed greatly involved with the Ukraine community in Washington so he will hit the ground running. This means that the U.S. will have a strong voice and representation at an important time of transition in Ukraine.”
One of his first challenges may be to prepare the first visit to the United States of Zelensky as president. While a visit has not been confirmed, there is talk that Zelensky would go to the United States after attending a Canadian conference on Ukrainian anti-corruption conference to be held in Toronto July 2-4. The news comes on the same day that the U.S. Embassy received a bomb threat. “Please do not come to the embassy until further notice,” the U.S. Embassy tweeted on its official account.
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