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Victoria Nuland quits

US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is poised to leave her post in the coming weeks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced. The senior official, widely regarded as a foreign policy hawk, played a key role in the Western-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014.

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In December 2013, she visited Kiev with the late Senator John McCain to hand out pastries to armed protesters in the city’s central square. Days before the February coup, as orchestrated mass murder gripped the city, she was recorded discussing how to “midwife this thing” with then-US ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, reportedly exclaiming “F**k the EU” when it came to a choice of new leader in the war-torn country.

Nuland resigned from the State Department during the Trump administration, taking the helm of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think-tank before joining the Albright Stonebridge Group and the board of the neo-liberal National Endowment for Democracy (NED). She rejoined the government after President Joe Biden’s inauguration in 2021.

She has worked on arming Ukraine and assembling a Western coalition that would supply Kiev with weapons and ammunition for the conflict with Russia. Last month, she pleaded to Congress to approve $61 billion in funding to Ukraine, arguing that most of it would be “going right back into the US economy,” to create jobs in the weapons industry.

Her most recent trip to Kiev involved intervening with President Vladimir Zelensky on behalf of General Valery Zaluzhny, though to no avail. Zaluzhny was subsequently fired. 

In a CNN interview at the end of February, Nuland admitted the defeat of US efforts towards Moscow, acknowledging that the target of her policy is “not the Russia that, frankly, we wanted.” 

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova attributed Nuland’s exit to “the failure of the anti-Russian course of the Biden administration.”

“Russophobia, proposed by Victoria Nuland as the main foreign policy concept of the United States, is dragging the Democrats to the bottom like a stone,” Zakharova said. Posting a photo of Nuland taken at an Orthodox church at some point, she said that if the US politician wanted to “go to a monastery to atone for your sins, we can put in a good word.”

Nuland is married to neoconservative stalwart Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. Her sister-in-law Kimberley Kagan, married to Robert’s brother Fred, runs the Institute for the Study of War. Her temporary replacement at the State Department will be Under Secretary for Management John Bass.

In a statement on Tuesday, Blinken noted that his friend “Toria” has held most of the jobs at the State Department, from a consular officer to ambassador and deputy secretary, over her 35-year career. Her most recent posting was as undersecretary for political affairs. She was also Blinken’s acting deputy after the July 2023 retirement of Wendy Sherman, until Kurt Campbell was confirmed to the post last month.

“What makes Toria truly exceptional is the fierce passion she brings to fighting for what she believes in most: freedom, democracy, human rights, and America’s enduring capacity to inspire and promote those values around the world,” Blinken said. 

He also noted that her “leadership on Ukraine” will be the subject of study “for years to come” by diplomats and students of foreign policy.

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