Shakeup at Biden's diplomatic staff with resignation of Karen Donfried

March 21, 2023

There's been another shakeup at the Biden White House with the resignation of top diplomat Karen Donfried.

The assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs is leaving her post to spend more time with family, reports said.

The White House hasn't said who will take her place, but the shakeup comes at a troubling moment, with the war in Ukraine driving global tensions to a boiling point.

Biden loses top diplomat

Donfried began the post in September of 2021, months before Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February of last year.

Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken praised Donfried for having "deftly managed our relationships with many of our most important allies and partners at a time when Kremlin aggression threatened decades of peace and prosperity."

He credited Donfried with strengthening America's relationship with Europe.

"Her policy acumen, integrity, and drive defined her leadership as Assistant Secretary and represent the highest values of public service,” he said.

"An exceptional leader, Karen has nurtured and empowered her team, positioning the Bureau and, in turn, the Department to pursue most effectively the interests and defend the values we share with our European allies," he added.

Turmoil in Europe

Before working at the White House, Donfried worked at the German Marshall Fund think tank, which seeks to promote ties between the U.S. and Europe.

She also served in the Obama administration's national security council on European affairs. The current Ukraine crisis began during the Obama years, with the U.S.-backed overthrow of a pro-Russian regime in Kyiv and Russia's seizure of Crimea.

The Biden administration has vowed to support Ukraine for "as long as it takes," while rejecting calls for diplomacy as premature. Blinken said Monday that the world should "not be fooled" by any peace plan that would "freeze" Russia's territorial gains.

"Calling for a ceasefire that does not include the removal of Russian forces from Ukrainian territory would effectively be supporting the ratification of Russian conquest.  It would recognize Russia’s attempts to seize a sovereign neighbor’s territory by force," he said.

Under Biden, the U.S. has committed tens of billions in lethal aid to support the Ukrainians, sparking calls for oversight from Republicans and concerns of escalation leading to nuclear war.

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