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tv   Confirmation Hearing for Ambassador to Ukraine  CSPAN  May 10, 2022 11:10pm-12:59am EDT

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coverage of the u.s. response to russia's invasion of ukraine. we also have international perspective from the united nations and statements from foreign leaders. all on the c-span network, and c-span.org/ukraine. go to c-span.org/ukraine. >> next the confirmation hearing on the nomination of bridget brink to be the ambassador to ukraine.
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topics covered include ukrainian refugees and security assistance. two other nominees also testify. this is just under two hours. sen. menendez: this hearing will come to order. we are here today to consider
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nominations for three important positions. ambassador bridget brink to be the ambassador to ukraine. ambassador elizabeth richard to be the coordinator for counterterrorism. ambassador alexander laskaris and to be the ambassador to chad . we will recognize senator peters at this point. sen. peters: it is my honor to introduce ambassador bridget brink to the committee. i also want to recognize her family who are with her today. her husband, who is also some in our country as a diplomat. and her two sons, jack and coke. like our service members and their families, our diplomats do not serve alone. their families often go unrecognized as a diplomats perform their crucial work in
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foreign lands thousands of miles from the country. so we want to thank all of them for their service. ambassador brink was born and raised in east grand rapids and graduated from east grand rapids high school in michigan. she remembers driving by assigned that recognize her home town as the home of president gerald ford. president ford's decency served as a marker for the midwest values that ambassador brink lives by. ambassador brink still keeps michigan close to her heart. visiting family in west michigan every year. although she has lived all across the globe, she will tell you that her favorite place in the entire world to visit his back along the shoreline of lake michigan. and that makes sense.
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the great lakes are more than a national treasure. they are ingrained in our dna. ambassador brink will have the opportunity to uphold those michigan values at a time of incredible people in ukraine. i know ambassador brink is ready for the challenge. she is a seasoned diplomat who first joined the state department in 1996. she spent her career in georgia, serbia, uzbekistan, slovakia. places she learned the dynamics that underpin the post-soviet order. and where she learned early on how russia chooses to treat its neighbors. ambassador brink will be in charge of supporting our ukrainian partners.
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as somebody who was working in the embassy during the conflict in the balkans, ambassador brink knows what it takes. her leadership is more vital than ever. and her service across five administrations is fitting tribute to the apolitical service that we expect from our civil servants. i am proud to recognize ambassador brink for her professional achievement and to congratulate her on this opportunity to serve her country. her success will be our countries success. i cannot think anybody more equipped for this position. that is why i would encourage her swept confirmation. thank you for this opportunity to introduce this extraordinary woman. sen. menendez: thank you for that glowing introduction. we appreciate your insights.
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i know there was a vote on the floor. feel free to leave if you need to. it is clear of the battle for the future of ukraine is far from over. ukraine has impressed the world with its bravery. yesterday missiles had as a top european diplomat met with the ukrainian prime minister. missiles have struck where u.s. diplomats commute from poland. russian military has destroyed countless cities. but the ukrainian people continue to to fight -- fight and defend the country. american and european diplomats are working to reopen diplomatic posts while ensuring the safety and security of our personnel. ambassador brink, thank you for accepting this critical post. you will be more than a wartime ambassador. i hope your expedient
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confirmation sends a powerful message to the world. we stand with ukraine and the free world will not abandon those fighting to protect it. once confirmed, you will face complex challenges. with all this in mind, i am pleased the administration has identified the right person for such a difficult job. i am pleased we are considering the diplomat with extensive experience, who was ambassador to slovakia, has worked with a large ukrainian refugee community, somebody with experience tackling the security challenges of europe, who served
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in belgrade during the balkan wars, and was a student when the berlin wall fell. i look forward to hearing your thoughts on how you plan to tackle the challenges and about your priorities for the first few months. it is a difficult challenge and we wish you well on your mission. we are also hearing today from the nominee for the counterterrorism coordinator, ambassador elizabeth richard. ambassador richard has a long and impressive record of service as our ambassador to lebanon, deputy assistant secretary for near east asia affairs, just to name a few in her 36 years of dedicated service. i look forward to hearing from
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you about your initiatives and directives that you will take. finally, we are considering ambassador alex les garris for the investor to chad. there was now a chance for chad to undergo a transformation. i will be interested in hearing from you what you will do to support efforts for chad's transition to democracy. i look forward to hearing your plans to improve u.s. policy balance. and with that, and welcome to
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your respective families. this is commitment by families and sacrifice by them as well and we appreciate their willingness to sacrifice as well on behalf of the nation. >> in this time of war and turmoil, the u.s. does not have a confirmed ambassador on the ground in ukraine for nearly three years. i wish it could have been server -- sooner, but it is what it is. if you are confirmed, this job will not be an easy one. you will be responsible for moving the embassy back into our facilities in kyiv, helping to shepherd a to the right places,
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and when the war is over, assisting ukraine in rebuilding its country. there will be a lot of scrutiny from washington on all of this. assuming you are confirmed, i would urge that you take a proactive role in impressing ukraine to remain true to its reformed path. i expect you to be a strong advocate for whatever military assistance ukraine needs in order to win. we have an expectation that you will remain in close contact with this committee. we need to hear from you as we continue to support ukraine in its fight against the russian invasion. turning to ambassador richard, while we shattered the islamic states rep on iraq and syria, problems remain. just this morning, the chairman and i were briefed in depth on the thousands of foreign terrorists that are languishing
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in prisons in syria. this is a serious problem. it is an unreported problem. while some of our partners repatriated are foreign partners to face justice, others have not. i welcome your advice and a resolution to this significant problem. finally, i am happy to see regarding chad, an investor with a range of experiences working in africa as the nominee. your record is outstanding. you have a difficult road ahead of you. relations with chad are complicated. and chance notoriously undemocratic politics. this is made more challenging by
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the coup that occurred following the death of the president -- the authoritarian president in april of 2021. the dissolution of parliament and the installation of his son all cost serious issues. it is a critical time for chad. it is equally critical we have a confirmed ambassador on the ground. sen. menendez: we will start up with you, ambassador brink. please summarize your statements in about five minutes or so so that we can have a conversation with you. your full statements will be included in the record without objection. ambassador brink, you are recognized. amb. brink: thank you, chairman
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menendez, ranking member risch, and distinguished members of this committee for the opportunity to appear before you today. i am honored to be president biden's nominee for the position of ambassador to ukraine. i am grateful for the trust and confidence the president and secretary blinken have placed in me. if confirmed, i commit to work with you to advance u.s. interests in ukraine. i am a career foreign service officer with 25 years of experience. my career focus has been supporting the freedom and independence of the countries of europe and greater europe. i view this work to which i have dedicated my professional life as fundamental to our own security. our collective effort has created more stable and capable allies and partners, opened markets for u.s. goods, and advanced strategic priorities which protect and defend the people of the united states. i am deeply proud to have advanced the longstanding strategic goal of a europe -- whole, free, and at peace -- over five u.s. administrations.
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i appreciate the leadership of the members of this committee and our work to resolve conflicts in the balkans, push back against russian aggression in eastern europe and the caucasus, and support reforms in young democracies on the edge of europe. i know america is its most powerful overseas when we have bipartisan support at home with regard to our core national interests. i appreciate this bipartisan support as we face the biggest threat to peace and security to europe in decades. if confirmed, i pledge to work with you to continue our commitment to a sovereign, democratic, and independent ukraine, free to choose its own future. to paraphrase the president, in this battle between democracy and autocracy, between freedom and repression, between a rules-based order and one governed by brute force, freedom must prevail. ukraine must prevail. if confirmed, my number one
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priority would be to advance the united states' strategic interests, which includes a democratic, sovereign, independent, and prosperous ukraine. the courage and heroism of president zelenskyy and the people of ukraine has inspired us all. if confirmed, i pledge to work with congress to help ukraine succeed on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. we will ensure that russia's effort to dominate ukraine is a strategic failure. i also commit to working with you to continue to provide humanitarian assistance and to pursue accountability for war crimes. in supporting ukraine, we are defending the principles of sovereignty and independence and the international rules-based order. my second priority would be to help ukraine rebuild. we support the decision of the people of ukraine to integrate more closely with europe and to undertake the serious and difficult internal reforms needed to achieve that goal. it will require ukraine to seize this historic opportunity with
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the eyes of the world upon it. a democratic, sovereign, and independent ukraine is also in the interest of the united states. finally, i take as my most solemn responsibility the safety and security of the people of our embassy. while we will not be able to conduct diplomacy in a war zone without risk, i pledge to work with my leadership and our team to balance risk against our goals in a way that advances our national interests in ukraine. coming from grand rapids, michigan, i entered public service with the values from my family and community. i want to relay how proud i am to be a part of our career foreign service, underscore the vital role it plays in promoting u.s. interests and values, and pay tribute to the people and their families who sacrifice so much to serve our great country. i want to salute the current charge d'affaires, kristina kvien, for her exceptional service and the team of dedicated americans and ukrainians who make up the u.s.
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embassy in kyiv. if confirmed, it will be an honor of a lifetime to join this team and lead our collective effort there. i want to conclude by recognizing those who have made it possible for me to be here today. first, i want to thank my husband and fellow foreign service officer, nicholas higgins, for his love and support for over 29 years. we are so proud of our children, jack and cole. as part of a diplomatic family that has moved every few years for their entire lives, i want to thank them for their own service to our country. i would also like to thank my mother, gwen brink. my father and stepmother, john and judy brink. sister, joanna brink. nephews, andrew and andre brink. aunt and uncle, mary and patrick sayne. my inlaws, adrienne and kingsley foster and my brothers and sisters in law for being bedrocks of support every step of the way. mr. chairman, ranking member, and members of the committee,
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thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you today. i welcome your questions. sen. menendez: thank. ambassador richard. amb. richard: thank you, chairman menendez, ranking member risch, and distinguished members of the committee. it is an honor to appear before you today as president biden's nominee to be coordinator for counterterrorism at the department of state. i am deeply grateful to president biden and secretary blinken for their support and confidence in me. over the course of my 36 years as a foreign service officer, i have had the privilege of serving in some of our most challenging posts, including lebanon, yemen, pakistan, and afghanistan. during that time, i have taken part in robust efforts by the u.s. and our partners and allies to confront the challenges to our stability and security from terrorist groups in these regions and beyond. we have prevented another terrorist attack on the homeland and greatly weakened isis and al-qaida, though both groups continue to work to expand their
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geographic footprint, creating new challenges. terrorist groups threatening the united states and our partners today are more geographically dispersed, more ideologically diverse, and more technologically adept than ever before. we must remain vigilant in addressing this dynamic and complex terrorist landscape. iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, and its proxies, continue their destabilizing behavior in the middle east and beyond. i have seen, first-hand, the results of iran's malign influence and use of proxies and fully understand the need to keep the pressure on and, if confirmed, i will continue to work with our partners, to do the same. terrorist groups in africa exploit poor governance and economic despair are growing more destructive by the day. groups like boko haram, al-shabaab and jamaat nusratul islam wal muslimin, and increasingly isis, thrive in this environment and threaten our interests in the region. if confirmed, i will work to increase international attention to this region.
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there is also a rising danger from racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists, which fbi director wray elevated in 2020 to a threat on par with isis and al-qaida. in addition to the increasing organizational decentralization of these groups, challenges to detecting and disrupting terrorist attacks include the exploitation of social media to radicalize and recruit, use of commercially available encrypted communications, deployment of commercially available drones, and employment of sophisticated financial schemes. the state department plays an integral role in the u.s. government's counterterrorism efforts by fostering international agreement on the need to confront these terrorist groups as well as by helping build the counterterrorism capacity of our partners. u.s. counterterrorism efforts are shifting from a u.s.-led, partner-enabled approach that relies heavily on military power to one in which our partners have the will and capability to
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lead in address ing terrorist th reats on their soil. if confirmed, i will prioritize efforts to reduce the continuing threat that isis poses around the world. under u.s. leadership, the 84-member global coalition to defeat isis has made major strides against the terrorist group in iraq and syria and is now also focused on addressing isis threats in africa and emanating from afghanistan. as part of that effort, i will prioritize repatriating foreign terrorist fighters and their family members from syria to their countries of origin, strengthening the detention facilities in which they are now housed and improving conditions in displaced persons camps in syria to prevent them from becoming incubators for the next generation of isis fighters. while countering terrorism is vital to u.s. national security interests, there are many other priorities and finite resources. while it is critical that the united states maintains its leadership role in international counterterrorism efforts, our partners should shoulder a
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greater share of the burden. finally, i commit to working with you to ensure that congress is regularly informed and consulted on counterterrorism efforts. with that, chairman menendez, ranking member risch, i appreciate your consideration and thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. i look forward to your questions. sen. menendez: thank you. amb. laskaris: thank you, mr. chairman, ranking member. it is an honor to appear before the senate foreign relations committee for a second time. i am deeply grateful to president biden and secretary blinken for their support, and if confirmed for the opportunity to continue my 31 year-career as a foreign service officer. to an africanist, the word chad conjures up memories of great kingdoms rooted in storied civilizations dating back to some 1,000 years of recorded history. today's chad is a rich mosaic of
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peoples, cultures, languages, and religions encompassing the worlds of the desert, the savannah, and the forest in an area three times the size of california. a rich past notwithstanding, today's chad is also one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 187th out of 189 countries in the un's human development index. it has some of the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the world, and some of the lowest incomes, life expectancies, and literacy rates. it is within both our interests as a nation and our values as a people that we work to address these conditions. there are security issues that require our attention, but they should never divert us from the fundamental development challenges that call for greater action and must define our work in chad. we have been partners with chad since its earliest days as an independent republic, and we helped defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity against armed libyan irredentism in the 1980s. perhaps this memory of an attempt by colonel qadhafi to
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forcibly seize the northern third of its territory contributed to chad's strong and welcome denunciation of the russian invasion of ukraine. two battalions of chadian peacekeepers have long served in the un mission in mali, and chadian soldiers have joined the regional and international coalitions against violent extremist organizations in the sahel and the lake chad basin. u.s. military personnel have always been welcomed in chad, and today there some 75 american service members deployed to n'djamena, where they support the multinational joint task force in the lake chad basin, as well as our african and french partners in the sahel. chad and its people have also been superb hosts to refugees fleeing violence in sudan, the central african republic, and cameroon. the people have welcomed their brothers and sisters fleeing violence, and the government has ensured that humanitarian assistance from the international community, led by the united states, has reached its intended beneficiaries. mr. chairman, chad gained its independence in 1960 and has had six presidents in the last 62 years. none of the incumbents left power voluntarily, and none of their successors assumed power
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via constitutional processes. in its modern history, chad has been governed by and for narrow regional and ethno-linguistic interests. it has also been governed more by the force of arms than by the force of law. following the death of president idriss deby in april 2021 and under chad's 2020 constitution, the president of the national assembly ultimately should have assumed the powers of the presidency on an interim basis and led the country quickly through to new elections. but he refused and that did not happen. instead of the process laid out in the constitution, chad has had a transitional military council led by one of the late president's sons. it has pledged a national dialogue leading to new elections. after president deby's death, the united states called for a peaceful, timely, and civilian-led transition of power to a democratically elected government. the pre-dialogue negotiations underway in doha are a critical step. if confirmed, i will continue to work with the african union and our international partners to support an inclusive, peaceful, and timely transition to a
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democratic and civilian-led government. the goal, and the hope, that we share with the people of chad is the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history, one that empowers a new government to tackle the profound development challenges it will face on inauguration day. unique in chad's history, transitional military council president mahamat deby has said publicly that he has no intention of running in the ensuing elections, the timing of which depends on a successful national dialogue. effective elections alone will not guarantee the success of the transition, but it is an important signal to the people of chad and to chad's international partners that political power must be contested at the ballot box, and not on the battlefield. as i begin to formulate my own thinking on how i will advance u.s. interests in chad if confirmed -- i go back to my two wonderful years on the faculty of the national war college, where we teach our students to formulate strategy by defining their ends, ways and means. our end state in chad must be a stable country at peace with itself and able to contribute to peacebuilding in the region.
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our ways consist of a small embassy, our portfolio of assistance and engagement programs, and our interagency and international partners. our means are the hard work under challenging conditions of our small embassy and the generosity of the american people acting through their elected executive and legislative branches. thank you again, mr. chairman and ranking member, and i am happy to answer any questions, either now or for the record. sen. menendez: thank you as well. we will start around of questions. let me start with the committee -- with questions on behalf of the committee as a whole. a simple yes or no will be responsive to the question. do you agree to appear before this committee and make officials from your office available to the committee when invited? >> yes. >> yes. >> yes.
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sen. menendez: do you commit to engaging in meaningful consultation while policies are being developed? amb. richard: yes. amb. brink: yes. amb. laskaris: yes. sen. menendez: will you respond promptly to information requested? amb. richard: yes. amb. brink: yes. amb. laskaris: yes. sen. menendez: over the weekend, we took a small team to our embassy in kyiv. can you give us a sense of how you envision bringing back our diplomatic presence in ukraine? amb. brink: yes, senator. thank you for that question.
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i was delighted myself to see them convene in kyiv on sunday. i think it is important for us to be there. i know she is laying the groundwork and coordination with congress and the steps that need to be taken. we will have to look at the security situation but i have great confidence in our experts to give us advice that allows us to continue to advance our strategic interests, which means being present to work with the ukrainians, work with other embassies and coordinate with washington from kyiv. i do not know exactly how fast we will be able to do this process, but i know we are trying to do it fast as possible. it is my plan if confirmed to be able to start my mission in kyiv . sen. menendez: would it be fair
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to say that your goal is to have robust engagement with the ukrainian government? amb. brink: yes, absolutely. sen. menendez: it is absolutely critical we work with our partners to provide ukraine the military assistance it needs. while also ensuring delivery of critical humanitarian relief for ukrainians, their neighbors. and address of the global implications for food insecurity and energy insecurity. let me ask you. will you commit to the committee backed upon your confirmation, you will work with the ukrainian government to ultimately ensure that we have the information and accelerate the delivery of lethal assistance for ukraine? amb. brink: yes, absolutely. sen. menendez: and can you also
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work with us? we are doing everything we can to promote this assistance to ukraine, but we are talking about billions of dollars. so making sure they are truly needed where they are going, how they are being used in this regard, can i get your commitment to consult with me and our committee staff on our oversight efforts with respect to security systems, with respect to humanitarian assistance, as we move forward? amb. brink: yes, senator. absolutely. sen. menendez: i also think about the future. hopefully about reconstruction in ukraine. so that there was light at the end of very long, harrowing
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period of time. do you see part of your role in thinking about working with the ukrainians about what reconstruction looks like? amb. brink: yes, absolutely. sen. menendez: we look forward to working with you on all of those elements. let me turn to ambassador richard. we heard from the kingdom of jordan today in a meeting about these isys camps in syria. it sounds like it is a great breeding ground for the next veneration of isis fighters. what is your thinking about how we deal with that challenge? amb. richard: i agree it is a serious problem and unsustainable. we saw this with the attack just a couple of months ago.
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we have worked up until now with partners and allies trying to get countries to take some of these people back. it is clearly not enough and we need to redouble our efforts and really insisted. keeping them in limbo is a incubator. also on the issue of two camps, the conditions are horrific and also potentially a breeding ground for more terrorism. sen. menendez: the 21st century challenges of where the battles are, including in the context of terrorism, are in one dimension, cybersecurity. what do you see as the role of the bureau with respect to addressing cybersecurity terrorism? amb. richard: one of the big challenges for us as this information domain. it is cyber, it is encrypted
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communications and social media. i am happy to see the state department has created finally a bureau to deal with cyber issues and information. i hope that we would be part of the coordination on these issues. because every agency and the government is focusing on this. >> thank you, mr. chairman. ambassador brink, have you spoken with them since they have been back? what did she tell you about the status of our infrastructure there? amb. brink: i only saw one message that she sent back. which was how close the russians came to kyiv. >> the suggestion was the infrastructure was sufficient to reopen? amb. brink: i did not see
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details on that. i would not necessarily at this point be involved in that. i did see a couple of pictures which showed it was damage to the outside of our embassy building. >> significant damage? superficial? amb. brink: i cannot tell. it looked superficial, but i do not have information. >> do you have any expectation of a timeframe when you think you might be able to get back? amb. brink: if confirmed, as soon as possible. >> that is what we got out of the secretary of state. not very helpful. i get that though. security issues need to be resolved. how would you compare the challenges that you are going to face their to the other postings that you have had? amb. brink: anger last question,
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-- on your last question, the team that is there right now is doing everything possible to return to embassy operations. >> there are other countries up and operating i am told. is that correct? amb. brink: i understand that too. >> we need to move it along as best we can. back to the question i asked. how would you assess the challenges you will face to some of the other postings that you had? amb. brink: i would assess the challenge to be enormous. i would also assess that from what i have seen, one of the most remarkable things, is the president, the secretaries and others bringing together this
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remarkable coalition to push back against russia's war of choice. in no way i do not think i have ever seen in my 25 years in the service. i feel we have the motivation and the commitment. and with your support and your funding and the support of almost all of the world, i think we can face this enormous challenge. i do not underestimate the challenge the investor on the ground will have. i believe i have an excellent team of people. we are fully committed to succeeding in our goal, which is to help ukraine defend itself. >> thank you. ambassador richard, i shared the same concerns the chairman has regarding what we heard today about these thousands of people in prison camps. i do not know how you were going to address that.
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one of the suggestions was getting them repatriated. i am not sure that resolves the problem. simply being repatriated does not seem to be jack -- it seems like you are letting them out of prison. what are your thoughts? amb. richard: repatriation for me is shorthand for incarceration. some of the countries of origin do not want to deal with that exact problem. the best outcome is for a legal process to keep some in jail. and that will be difficult to do. but it is what we have to press for. the current situation is unsustainable. sending them somewhere and letting them go is also >> not a solution. > no question about that. i have no doubt you will resolve it once you get confirmed.
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ambassador laskaris, the military government promised 18 months election. what are your thoughts? >> there have been dial-up going on. it looks like that will slip to the right. one of the key determinations i will have to make is the quality of process. i think we have to work with our partners to push the process back into the right direction. i think 18 months probably will slip. >> i cannot see how it will not slip. i know you will urge them to
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move this along as rapidly as possible. good luck at that and i think all of you for your service. >> thank you, mr. chairman. let me reiterate our thanks to you and your families and your will makes to serve -- willingness to serve. ambassador brink, i wanted to draw upon your experience working in slovakia. slovakia is one of the countries that is raising the most vocal objections to the european union supplanted to wean itself off of russian oil. this is a country that is almost wholly dependent on russian energy. i want to make sure that as a committee we see the full picture of how you defend ukraine. certainly at the top of the list is sending the weapons they need to fight this fight and win it.
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but in order to keep europe united, in order to press against the revenue sources that russia uses to perpetuate this war, we have to be in the business of helping countries like slovakia become energy independent. i wonder if you might share with us your thoughts given your broad experience in the country as to the focus we should have, not just in the war in ukraine? amb. brink: thank you, senator murphy. i am proud to be the president's representative in slovakia. a country of 5 million people on the front lines right now on russia's war of choice in ukraine. you are correct there was an active debate in the government
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in slovakia about how to become less dependent on russia. the political leadership has decided that slovakia must become less dependent on russia. it is a question of how to do it in a way that causes the least pain to the nation. slovakia is dependent on russia for all of its energy, so it is a big challenge. there are u.s. companies trying to help slovakia reduce this burden. we ourselves have been raised this for quite a long time. you and others have long expressed interest in trying to do this. it is now that we have this opportunity. supporting countries like slovakia is critical. i would say a couple of other things. slovakia has received over
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500,000 refugees from ukraine, which is about 7% of the population. they have open their arms and hearts and homes to these refugees in a way that is remarkable. refugees can come to slovakia for a year and they get full benefits from the government. i want to highlight that slovakia has been an enormous donor of security assistance. i am really proud to have been part of this effort on the u.s. side with the secretary of defense and others to provide slovakia so that slovakia can provide the empty air systems. in a nutshell, it is important to continue to support the front. they need help in many ways and slovakia has stepped up in many
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ways. >> investor, great to see you again. thank you for your service in lebanon. i want to ask you a question about a directive from secretary alston to strengthen efforts to prevent civilian deaths and improve the way the dod investigates claims of civilian harm in u.s. combat operations. this is relative to drone strikes. you have served in yemen. you have probably seen research suggesting that in areas where we have had the highest level of drone activity, terrorist groups have the highest level of recruitment success. we just want your commitment that you will work with the department of defense to ensure that we minimize civilian harm and get your takeaways as to the
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upside and downside of our drone activities as a mechanism to combat terrorism. amb. brink: thank you for that question. it is a very complex and fraught issue. i have worked with my dod colleagues very closely in every assignment i have been in in the last 15 years. i have seen firsthand how hard this is. because there was a need to deal with an imminent threat. and they need to balance the civilian casualties. and i welcome the dod's ability to look at this and figure out how to do it better. if i am confirmed, i would welcome working with them from the civilian side of the house on how to do that. >> thank you. senator portman is next. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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i appreciate you have having the steering today. -- this hearing today. i have been pushing to get an ambassador to ukraine for long time. i am glad the administration has nominated someone and i am glad they chose a career diplomat. this nomination of ambassador brink is very critical that we move quickly on. i appreciate you moving herself quickly to a hearing. over the weekend, the president announced that we have withdrawn another $150 million, which means there was less than $100 million left. and here we are in congress not yet acting on the supplemental request. the weapons will potentially be stalled and it is critical that
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we act weakly so that we do not have a gap -- act quickly so that we do not have a gap. ambassador brink, can you talk a little bit about that? amb. brink: thank you, senator portman. i wanted to start by thanking you for your support of the global engagement center. i know that has been a big effort of yours and it is important for ukraine, but also slovakia and other countries that face these huge challenges. it is incredibly important that the supplemental move fast. i understand it is moving, but what we are trying to do as an administration is move security items as fast as possible.
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while we have already provided some $3.8 billion of security assistance, the needs are large. we are working closely with allies and partners on those needs and with ukrainians and
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>> i've had the pleasure of working with a few ambassadors. different styles. do you know the security coordinator well? >> i do not. i look forward to meeting him. >> would you work closely with him? >> yes. >> i think that is important. dealing with the defense of their country and with things being on the line charlie, i think the general will need your help. you know general dayton? >> no. >> i hope you summit you will get to know. that is an important part of your function should you be confirmed, which i hope you will be. what do you think they need
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military wise that they are not getting? >> needs are evolving. i would need to come back to you on what the precise needs are. i know they are changing. what they needed to defend key is -- defend kyiv is different. having served in the balkans, it is my great pleasure to work with our military. i have long worked well with them and with see us as partners in this effort. >> there is also a crisis in the country right now. all of these issues are important. i do think you would be the voice of our company.
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we did talk about it last week. we are outgunned here. with regards to disinformation, there spent billions of dollars on this. can you tell us what can be done better to justify this? >> i think we can do more. more is what i would want. we are outgunned, out resourced, outmaneuvered. it is a challenge. we have to do as much as we canned and be creative. -- we have to do as much as we can and be creative. it is a big threat to us and our
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way of life. >> thank you. senator, i said he could go next because he has an engagement, would you yield to him? thank you. >> thank you. it is wonderful to see you. i'm looking forward to seeing you confirmed. we are finalizing what i hope will be a $40 billion supplemental package for ukraine. focused on the humanitarian side. ukraine is the bed -- breadbasket of europe. what you think will be the
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biggest challenges moving forward as hard as providing humanitarian assistance to the people of ukraine and the port of odessa? my sense of the feature is that we will struggle to have a vibrant ukraine without a vibrant economy and that will not happen until the 90% of grain exports are able to transit freely and be that great source of revenue they have been in the past. i would be interested in your thoughts and how we get assistance to ukraine and how we get ukrainian food and oil and other products out of the port. >> thank you. excellent question. there are millions, in addition to the refugees, there are seven
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.7 million i think -- there are 7.7 million i think. we have had some success in working with our international organizations that we fund. there are implementing partners to work that humanitarian assistance into ukraine. the last is over $500 million. this is not easy. it cannot happen it as -- the same as it would in any other environment. these are also experts and we are relying heavily on them to get that assistance where it is intended to go. the question of the ports, it is a big challenge because russia is blocking the port in the
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black sea. you're trying to work with international partners and others find alternative routes grain and corn at of ukraine as well as work with other relief organizations to supplement the countries that depend on these exports. it is an enormous challenge. the benefit we have is president biden in this administrations success in a coalition of like-minded people who together condemned this war and will work together. that is exactly what, if confirmed, i will likely jump in and do. >> thank you. i am concerned about the instability of other countries
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in the region and the ongoing actions of the group. senator graham and i worked on getting the global fertility act signed into law. it had overwhelming support. africa has been targeted and mozambique to try and straighten them. if confirmed would you work with me and others to ensure that the act is actually used as a tool ? >> plywood would. i think that is creative approach to some of the problems we are struggling with. >> thank you. if i might, i have visited there once. i'm watching some of the
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developed -- developments with concern. how is this transition of power affecting cooperation and how do you think you might be able to influence the movement in elections this year? >> thank you. i appreciate your presence and interest in africa. i think we need to work with our partners. we need to apply pressure on all parties cores this transition to free and fair elections. one would be a monopoly of seats on the table. the more c3 have -- the more seats we have, the better outcome. i think it is time to have it
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ruled by unarmed political actors. our security presence is largely suspended because of the aftermath of the president's death. we are concerned -- our challenges to get the political transition on track as well as the partnership act, focus on governance and the lack thereof as the driver of conflict in the region. if and when we can take care of those challenges, i think this will follow. >> thank you. thank you to my colleague from maryland. >> thank you.
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i'm not sure i would have let you jump the line if i knew you were take my last question. -- were going to take my last question. in all seriousness, congratulations. thank you for your service in slovakia. look forward to working with you. i expect that will happen. ambassador, i think i will continue the question was result to isis. while we have made progress over the years, we continue to see active cells. like question is, what do we need to be doing in working with
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our allies to prevent the resurgence of isis. -- resurgence of isis in the region? >> is a look at it, it is clear that they are holding that area pretty well. they're preventing them from starting something new and going out. i do not know what the answer is. i look forward to consulting with our middle east colleagues to see what kinds of issues can we better work on to break out of the stasis that we are in now. >> appreciate that. i know in your opening statement you mentioned some camps with
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isis fighters, camp members. this is a problem we have identified but no one has come up with a good solution. we're thinking him for taking in many refugees. i do not expect you to come in right now with the clear answer but this is something we have been talking about food i don't know if you have any thoughts on it now but i would be interested if you have some clean luminary -- if you have some clean them -- if you have some preliminary ideas. >> the longer it goes unresolved, the harder it is to resolve.
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one thing i might bring is a little fresh energy. the counterterrorism bureau has been without permanent leadership for a while. >> i'm hoping in it or stand there would be some additional resources with our assistance to the syrian people. i hope that is the case and i look forward to working with you on that. turning to afghanistan, there is an isis presence. we have a situation where the taliban is in control. what is your assessment on where they stand today? >> i do not have visibility on
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much of that. it is very -- to see them establish a presence. clearly what they set about taking care of it, that has not been met. literally, we have more opportunity to take advantage of that now. >> what is your assessment, right now, of isis'growth in africa? >> i would have to defer to my africa colleagues. what i see are isis affiliates, people inspired by them, rather
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than hard command and control. it is a lot harder to fight and to see sometimes. poor governance and economic despair is a big cause of this the region. i would look forward to work with the africa bureau to understand the underlying dynamics of that we might get ahead of this. >> i appreciate that. i agree that we did not focus enough on that. i don't want to swing back entirely in the other direction and see isis and other terrorist organizations use this opportunity what everyone is focused on other parts of the world to regain their strength. thank you.
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>> senator. >> i will fill the gap. this is one question to the ambassador, drawing on your experience in lebanon. note to terrorist organizations are the same -- no two terrorist organizations are the same. that means that when it comes to a more socially embedded group, you have to meet them where they are, you have to have an answer for the services that they are providing. since you left, there is a
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debate on energy, shipments of oil from iran and we are busy trying to find an alternative. there is an element that involves killing terrorists, an element that acknowledges that they often provide human services that you have to create and supply to the government as an ally in order to make people less reliance on those terrorist organizations. asking you to draw up on your experience in lebanon. >> thank you for your question and your interest and support from the time i was there until now. what you put your finger on is the hardest thing. what happens in terrorist groups
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is that they fill vacuums. easiest is security. when these groups move into that next level, it is harder to combat them. when needs to happen in lebanon is a functioning government that can execute the same services in a non-corrupt and fairway, that is the solution. >> i was actually -- asking an extra question but i think he is back. >> i didn't know what was going on at this point. >> thank you.
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>> like to turn my remarks to ambassador bring -- brink's. -- brink. your into a critical zone. i wish you were nominated some time ago. want to let you know that i am very supportive of seeing our diplomatic presence back in ukraine. we both signed a letter underscoring our support over the past several days. i'm pleased to see things moving as they are at this point. its critical at this point to have one in place. this is a matter of priorities.
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i was put through 30 hours of culture for this process and was confirmed and put in my position in a few months. is taking far too long. on underscore -- i want to underscore the priority that i see here. thank you very much. i look forward to seeing you tomorrow. >> thank you. >> understand that we have a senator with us virtually. senator booker?
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[background noises] >> thank you. i want to ask two quick questions. the first is to miss brink. i'm grateful you are before us. i know the port was already brought up. i am very concerned about global food and the crisis that we see in world history where we have the most food and in -- insecure people people -- and people. this has been exacerbated by covid and shots to the supply chain. yemen, africa, we have a lot of challenges. i am hopeful we may be able to get about $5 billion from the united states into the food
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program but i want to ask you, from your own opinion, giving what is going on in the ukraine the shots to their ability to provide many other places around the world, think it is more important than ever to step up to the crisis. i want to hear your concern that unrest. only to make the security crisis greater. >>'s thank you so much for your question. it is an excellent question. i am married to a foreign service officer.
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i am by marriage, interest and discussion interested in on the aspects of this conflict. what you say is right. it shows why this is a global conflict, why this is one that is in the interest of the united states to do everything we can to help ukraine defend itself and help rebuild. with regard to food insecurity, is one of the big issues i will be looking at. i knew we have a new envoy in the state department and we won't be working in our working together to do everything we can to alleviate some of the second order consequences of russia's war. >> thank you.
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my last question, going back to africa, some of the challenges there, one of them is the remarkable level of -- we are in africa. i've of which have successful. it is frustrating. i was there myself a few years back. spread around the region is challenging. we knew that the folks are following these in epidemic of but -- of coups. we have seen this backsliding but i appreciate the security
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role's the child plays in the region but at the same time it is important to ensure the old transition to democratic system, this is not just about sending a message about concerns about democratic backsliding it is critical for long-term sustainability in the region but could be doing more so to assist chad with a transition? >> thank you. military wall is normally catastrophic for africa, the body of evidence suggests that it could bring catastrophes on them.
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now alone we should be pushing back as hard as possible. in the case in chad, there is a backsliding because there has not been any front sliding since independence. it has been ruled by the gun and people who took power by force. i think it is time to put seats around the table with the unarmed actors. i don't think we can do this from outside. we can listen to the over joe ring -- overwhelming majority who are calling for this. need to empower -- we need to empower chad. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman.
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thank you miss brink. think your much needed and going to do a great job in ukraine. can i touch on the ban on oil imports for the eu from russia and the role -- is playing? can you talk about the consensus that exists right now except for hungry -- hungary? do you have any insights in terms of what could be done in order to ensure that they join so that this new regime goes into place as quickly as possible? >> thank you.
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thank you for our conversation earlier. as i'm not the accredited diplomat to hungary, there is a strong willingness and interest to move the. whatever seen for my position -- to move the issue quickly. what i have seen from my position is that there is -- if there is a substitution or way for the u.s. to be helpful, that is a helpful situation for them to be in. they have a challenge of their publics and rising prices. any ways that we can help, which we have been doing, with regard to oil i would assume it is a
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similar situation. we are also hoping on nuclear fuel as well in the ukraine and other places. >> i appreciate that. in general, i appreciate your expertise to this region. prior to russia's assault on the ukraine, a list of things holding them back with the corruption from top to bottom. crane was -- ukraine was 122 out of 170, russia was 136. what do you think the u.s. can do as we are going to be the primary assistance in terms of encouraging transparency and a change in their culture in transparency? >> thank you.
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it is crucial for ukraine to prevail in this. to prevail in creating the kind of ukraine that ukrainians have been fighting for four years. after the orange revolution. that is free of corruption, follows the rule of law and allows for democratic rights. that is one that will be, i think, the next step challenge for the government. what i am grateful for, the support and appropriations to help us support ukraine. we must be mindful of that being a challenge and we must offer assistance in ways it will help ukrainians meet that challenge. >> my fear is that the ukraine
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will win the war and lose the peace. we want them to be admitted to the eu, to make the transparency standards -- which the rest of the eu does comply with. i think it is imperative for us to figure out how to square that circle. the soon as this war is concluded, we want them to join the eu but we will not if they return to the same pattern. including their addiction to natural gas from russia which has them being the bottom five in terms of energy efficiency. they got addicted to a corrupt way of operating.
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we are glad to have you there. we will assist them during the war but they have to be prepared for the piece as well. their political system has to change. glad to have you. >> thank you. >> thank you, thank you to our witnesses. ambassador, i know you have been asked a number of questions about if you should be confirmed , i want to drill into that and ask you about a specific one. morale issues. you have been an ambassador and you know how important morale of -- and staff is, should you be confirmed, how we address morality stress issues?
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>> thank you. i think it is very important that we reestablish our mission. that will be a very important first step, it is necessary for us to be on the ground. i can tell you that paying attention and understanding that our mission is made up of americans and local staff, staffing the backbone, is really important. also, rallying people around our goal to be and is to help the ukraine defend themselves and use every bit of experience and effort and support to garner that on the ground for ukraine. and we need to take care of our staff.
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it is an unprecedented situation . to be part of a wartime situation's's and people stay behind and are unable to accompany is a hard thing for those of us who do this work to go through. i don't underestimate the challenge we have faced, i salute our leadership there, also the embassy staff. look forward to joining this team and leading our effort in the best way possible so that we can affirm and use the great resources we have to achieve our goals. >> the departments of state office documented several key
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findings in its 2020 exception of the bureau including 20 of its 92 authorized -- it also allowed nearly $52 million of funds expire and cancel an average of 32 million a year. these funds went unused and were returned to the department due to "weakness in funds." they also submitted reports on terrorism well beyond the required deadline of april 30 from the previous years. what would you do should you be confirmed to fill positions,
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control use of funds and get the bureau in a place where they are submitting reports on a timely basis? >> thank you for that question. oftentimes we do not pay enough attention to those issues. i spent three years in the middle east bureau creating and directing the office of assistance to the middle east. i learned some valuable skills there. i think i could bring some lessons with that, hopefully get them functioning at the high rate that they could do. many people are acting and filling two or three jobs at the
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same time. >> your right to draw a line between vacancies and acting and internal disorganization. thank you for making the connection, i yield back. >> thank you and congratulations to each of our nominees. want to bring it back to ambassador brink, ukraine is uppermost in our minds.
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i want to echo near opening thanks -- your opening thanks. it has been a hard time for anyone involved with the embassy. the majority have been women and children. i am concerned about how we's women and address potential trafficking issues. can you speak to that and how we can ensure women and girls and children who have fled the war in the ukraine don't become
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victims again because of sex trafficking? >> thank you. at the beginning, the thing that struck meet the very most was that everyone coming across the border was a woman or child. throughout my career, trafficking has been one of my priorities. in pappy it is your priority and one of congresses. 's i will look forward to working with them because ukraine has been a source country.
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it is a big country, the problem there is also potentially quite large. challenge would trafficking, it is a whole government effort. it is an important issue for people who are refugees. >> i had an opportunity to meet with some of the women from ukraine who were here a month or so ago. one of the things we talked about was the woman legislation we have passed here and they were interested in that. 's's i would like to ask you to
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put that on the list to address what is happening in the country. i want to think you publicly for your help with us we had a new hampshire resident who was detained illegally in lebanon. while sadly he is no longer with us, it was important to get him out of the country and home. this role was originally recommended by the syria group
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in response to is happening there. the situation there has not gotten better with respect to detainees, it has gotten worse. as i understand, in your new role, you would have that coordinator as part of your responsibility. can you talk about what you think the priority is there and what we can do to address what has the potential to be a huge nightmare in the region? as we look it was happening in detainee camps? >> thank you for the kind words about lebanon. i have valued the collaboration between yourself and us many months. her's -- thank you for that.
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from the foreign fighters issue, that is in my office. i mentioned earlier that it is the top one or two issues on the plate. it is an unstable situation that does get worse other day. 's there are thousands of them, many children as well, it cries out for recruitment from radicals. we have to bring new energy to that problem. we talking about hostages or foreign fighters? >> foreign fighters. >> this is a key issue. i think all of us have gotten a
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little bit complacent, if it is not on fire, we cannot be complacent. >> thank you. >> senator. >> thank you. let me think -- think all three of our -- thank all three of our nominees. bassett or brink, think you for taking this on. it is important at this moment for our presence in ukraine. want to go over to things that we talked about. we need to have capacity to help
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in regards to information necessary to pursue war crimes. your work in the balkans gave me great confidence that you understand the magnitude and you recognize that the world is looking it happens in regards to accountability for the atrocities in ukraine. can you talk about the u.s. role in assisting those that are responsible for preserving evidence and moving forward with accountability? >> justice and accountability for war crimes and atrocities is incredibly oriented to the
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ukraine and us and me personally. i had the chance when i served early on to win this atrocities firsthand. also, to contribute ultimately to the justice. it took years but they are facing justice. i think that is important. the world huston no and those who commit these atrocities have to note that we will not stop. we're using every tool at our disposal to help support the documentation of atrocities and enable their use in prosecutions. we are doing this in many different ways but we will do this through the prosecutor general's office, u.n. counsel for human rights and through the moscow mechanism.
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where also supporting the icc and its efforts. it will be a personal priority of mine as well. >> i will underscore that tomorrow. dealing with -- [background noises] >> senator, i don't know if you're still with us. modern marvels of technology have their limitations. we will try to contact his office, he still had some time.
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in the interim, let me go over a couple things. >> i am sorry. i was just urging the ambassador that had capacity to deal with democratic institutions in ukraine as they rebuild and fight the corruption, just to have the capacity to deal with that as we move forward. >> i completely agree. we can use this opportunity to rebuild and reform. taking this opportunity that previously passed by is important. we need to make sure it is done
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in the way that helps realize the aspirations of the ukrainian people in the values we share of independent democratic, prosperous, sovereign ukraine. >> let me point out, we know chad has challenges in regard to its -- institutions. i will be asking for the record -- thank you. >> at the end of the last year we passed legislation, the partnership program act was calls for the administration to deal with a strategy for the region. can we get with your commitment to deal with timely manner if
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you are confirmed? >> yes. >> i will include this in the record. finally, over the last 10 years, security assistance has outpaced support for democracy and good governance and contributed in my view to that demilitarization of that regime. as i noted in a letter, i have serious concerns about this approach. to be robust support for strengthening institutions.
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i want to ask you, do you believe that we should be advocating for a pause on security assistance? >> run it comes to people in somali, we should continue that. obviously with great oversight.
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>> don't we need to make sure it better balances diplomacy? i think it is heavy on the security side and light on the other. are we willing to look away from the core? these are punts mental messages and global messages as well. i will point are we willing to pursue such a road without thinking about the consequences of a government that is there? >> thank you for the question. by far it is humanitarian, food assistance. our second largest has been covid. $17 million a year.
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i really think the narratives out there, if confirmed, one of the things, the data is out there. at the same, i think our activities have been underfunded. the committee has made it clear that they value the building of our political system. >> they may be third in those categories but one of the reasons we have assistance is because of the instability that exists in the country and the governance.
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it would be my hope that you as a sitting ambassador would be looking at these events and sanctions where they are applicable. at some point, we cannot live on the aspiration that this will get better. >> i agree. >> this will remain open to the close of business tomorrow. i would urge the nominees to answer as quickly as possible. this meeting is adjourned. [gavel] [background noises]
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