Victoria Nuland

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Victoria Nuland
Victoria Nuland 2021.jpg
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Assumed office
May 3, 2021
PresidentJoe Biden
Preceded byDavid Hale
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
In office
September 18, 2013 – January 25, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
DeputyJohn A. Heffern[1]
Preceded byPhilip Gordon
Succeeded byJohn A. Heffern (Acting)
Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
In office
May 31, 2011 – April 5, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byPhilip Crowley
Succeeded byJen Psaki
United States Ambassador to NATO
In office
June 20, 2005 – May 2, 2008
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byNicholas Burns
Succeeded byKurt Volker
Personal details
Victoria Jane Nuland

(1961-07-01) July 1, 1961 (age 60)
New York, New York, U.S.
Spouse(s)Robert Kagan
EducationBrown University (BA)

Victoria Jane Nuland (born October 25, 1961) is an American diplomat currently serving as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Nuland, a former member of the foreign service, served as the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State from 2015-2017.[2][3] She held the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest diplomatic rank in the United States Foreign Service.[4] She is the former CEO of the Center for a New American Security, (CNAS), serving from January 2018 until early 2019, and is also the Brady-Johnson Distinguished Practitioner in Grand Strategy at Yale University, and a Member of the Board of the National Endowment for Democracy.

She served as a nonresident fellow in the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution[5] and senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group.[6] On January 5, 2021, it was reported that President-elect Joe Biden would nominate Nuland to serve as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under Secretary-designate Antony Blinken.[3] On February 13, 2021, her nomination was formally submitted to the Senate for confirmation, and on April 29, 2021, her nomination was confirmed by unanimous consent, and she started her work as Under Secretary of State on May 3, 2021.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Victoria Nuland was born in 1961 to Sherwin B. Nuland, a surgeon, and Rhona McKhann.[8] She graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall in 1979.[9] She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1983, where she studied Russian literature, political science, and history.[10]


Nuland meeting with Georgian defense ministry leadership, December 6, 2013
John Kerry and Victoria Nuland with Ukrainian opposition leaders Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk and Klitschko, Munich, February 1, 2014

From 1993 to 1996, during Bill Clinton's presidency, Nuland was chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott before moving on to serve as deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs.[11]

From 2003 to 2005, Nuland served as the principal deputy foreign policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, exercising an influential role during the years the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq.

From 2005 to 2008, during President George Bush's second term, Nuland served as U.S. ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Brussels, where she concentrated on mobilizing European support for the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.[12]

In the summer of 2011, Nuland became special envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe[13] and then became State Department spokesperson.[14]

In May 2013, Nuland was nominated to act as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs[15] and was sworn in on September 18, 2013.[16] In her role as assistant secretary, she managed diplomatic relations with 50 countries in Europe and Eurasia, as well as with NATO, the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.


Nuland was the lead U.S. point person for the Ukrainian crisis, establishing loan guarantees to Ukraine, including a $1 billion loan guarantee in 2014, and the provisions of non-lethal assistance to the Ukrainian military and border guard.[17][18] Along with Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, she is seen as a leading supporter of defensive weapons delivery to Ukraine. In 2016, Nuland urged Ukraine to start prosecuting corrupt officials: "It's time to start locking up people who have ripped off the Ukrainian population for too long and it is time to eradicate the cancer of corruption".[19] While serving as the Department of State's lead diplomat on the Ukraine crisis, Nuland pushed European allies to take a harder line on Russian expansionism.[20]

During a June 7, 2016, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing titled "Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights", Nuland described U.S. diplomatic outreach to the former Soviet Union and efforts to build a constructive relationship with Russia. During her testimony, Nuland noted Russia's 2014 invasion of Ukraine which she said, "shattered any remaining illusions about this Kremlin's willingness to abide by international law or live by the rules of the institutions that Russia joined at the end of the Cold War."[21] Nuland described four essential elements of the U.S. foreign policy towards Russia:

  1. Deter further aggression through the projection of strength and unity with allies;
  2. Build resilience and reduce vulnerability among friends and Allies facing Russian pressure and coercion;
  3. Cooperate on core national security priorities when U.S. interests and Russia's do align;
  4. Sustain ties to the Russian people and business community to preserve the potential for a more constructive relationship in the future.[22]

Departure from State Department[edit]

Nuland left the State Department in January 2017, amid the departure of many career officials who left in the early days of the Trump administration.[23]

Leaked private phone conversation[edit]

On February 4, 2014, a recording of a phone call between Nuland and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, on January 28, 2014, was published on YouTube.[24][25] The State Department and the White House suggested that an assistant to the deputy prime minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin was the source of the leak, which he denied.[26][27][28]

In their phone conversation, Nuland and Pyatt discussed who should join a unity government, to include Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and in what ways they might achieve that outcome. Specifically, the two spoke about which opposition leaders they would like to see in government, what pitches they would give each opposition leader in subsequent calls to achieve this, and strategies on how they would try to manage the 'personality problems' and conflicts between the different opposition leaders with ambitions to become president. Nuland notified Pyatt that after the review of the three opposition candidates for the post of Prime Minister of Ukraine, the US State Department had selected Arseniy Yatsenyuk. She said: "I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. What he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week". Pyatt asked: "Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?" Nuland told Pyatt that the next step should be to set up a telephone conversation between her and the three Ukrainian candidates, with Pyatt also possibly participating. Pyatt agreed: "I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it".[25][26] Yatsenyuk became prime minister of Ukraine on February 27, 2014.[29]

After discussing Ukrainian opposition figures, they discussed that the EU would not commit to mediate, with Nuland adding "Fuck the EU." Pyatt responds, "Oh, exactly ...."[25][30][31][32]

According to the Washington Post,

[Nuland] was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional. Nuland also assessed the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor and, along with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, debated strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine's to resolve.[33]

A spokeswoman for EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton stated that the EU would not comment on a "leaked alleged" conversation.[31] The following day, Christiane Wirtz, Deputy Government Spokesperson and Deputy Head of the Press and Information Office of the German Federal Government, stated that German Chancellor Angela Merkel termed Nuland's remark "absolutely unacceptable."[34] The president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, condemned the remark as "unacceptable."[35][36]

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had left the State Department by the time of the leak, argued in 2017 that the incident "didn't have lasting diplomatic repercussions". She said it was notable as an early example of Russia "weaponizing" intelligence against other states: "the Russians were not just stealing information for intelligence purposes, as all countries do; they were now using social media and strategic leaks to 'weaponize' that information."[37]

Comments on the Trump administration[edit]

On January 24, 2018, the Washington Post published an interview with Nuland where she opined on the work of President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. She described an exodus of career foreign service officials and dysfunction within the State Department, and stated that the American judiciary and media were under assault. Nuland also decried a trend towards American isolationism stating: "When we withdraw and say it's every nation for itself, you open the door for countries dissatisfied with their territorial position and influence in the international system — or with the system itself." She encouraged whole-government responses to international issues stating, "Military leaders would be the first to say military solutions alone result in more and longer military entanglements. The role of American diplomats and political leaders is to work concurrently with the military to bring to bear all of the political tools we have."[38]

In January 2018, the Trump administration began new high-level engagements with Russian government officials by scheduling a meeting between Russia's top general Valery Gerasimov and the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti. Nuland stated, "These channels are especially vital at a time when relations at the leader level are so unpredictable." She said Scaparrotti was "uniquely positioned" to address concerns about Russia's "ongoing military role in Ukraine, its INF treaty violations, its active measures to undermine Transatlantic democracies and the other strategic tensions that are driving the US and its allies to take stronger deterrent measures."[39]

Personal life[edit]

Nuland's husband, Robert Kagan, is a historian, foreign policy commentator at the Brookings Institution, and co-founder in 1998 of the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC)."[40]


  1. ^ "Bureau Senior Officials". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved November 28, 2015.
  2. ^ "Bureau of Public Affairs Front Office Changes".
  3. ^ a b "Biden to tap more Obama vets to fill key national security roles". POLITICO. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  4. ^ "PN1907 - 2 nominees for Foreign Service, 114th Congress (2015-2016)". December 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "Victoria Nuland". April 2, 2019.
  6. ^ "Press Release: Victoria Nuland Rejoins ASG". Albright Stonebridge Group. April 18, 2019. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  7. ^ "PN120 — Victoria Nuland — Department of State". U.S. Congress. Retrieved February 14, 2021.
  8. ^ Victoria Nuland (1961–), U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian.
  9. ^ "Choate Notable Alumni". Choate Rosemary Hall. Archived from the original on January 21, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  10. ^ Schwartzapfel, Beth (April 2013). "ALUMS IN THE STATE DEPT: No Praying from the Podium". Brown Alumni Magazine.
  11. ^ Reuters Staff (January 5, 2021). "Biden to name Sherman, Nuland to top diplomatic posts: sources". Reuters. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  12. ^ "Victoria Nuland". Brookings. April 2, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  13. ^ "Ambassador Victoria Nuland". NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR DEMOCRACY. January 22, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  14. ^ "Victoria Nuland to be State Department spokesman". Foreign Policy. May 16, 2011.
  15. ^ "Obama nominates Nuland for assistant secretary of state". Politico. May 23, 2013.[1] Archived July 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Swearing-in Ceremony for Victoria Nuland as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs". Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  17. ^ "Nuland On Ukraine". Voice of America. March 17, 2015. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  18. ^ Victoria Nuland (March 4, 2015). "Testimony on Ukraine Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee". U.S. State Department. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  19. ^ Isabela Cocoli (April 27, 2016). "US Urges Ukraine to Jail Corrupt Officials". Voice of America. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  20. ^ "The Undiplomatic Diplomat". Foreign Policy. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  21. ^ Nuland, Victoria (June 7, 2016). "U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Transcript of June 7, 2016" (PDF).
  22. ^ Nuland, Victoria (June 7, 2016). "Testimony of Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing: "Russian Violations of Borders, Treaties, and Human Rights" June 7, 2016" (PDF).
  23. ^ Elise Labott (January 27, 2017). "Trump administration asks top State Department officials to leave". CNN.
  24. ^ Re Post (February 4, 2014). "Марионетки Майдана" [Puppets in the Public Square (marionetke maidana)]. YouTube. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  25. ^ a b c "Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call", BBC News, February 7, 2014, retrieved October 9, 2014
  26. ^ a b Chiacu, Doina; Mohammed, Arshad (February 6, 2014). "Leaked audio reveals embarrassing U.S. exchange on Ukraine, EU". Reuters. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  27. ^ "BBC News - Victoria Nuland: Leaked phone call 'impressive tradecraft'". BBC Online. February 7, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  28. ^ Ed Pilkington, Luke Harding and agencies (February 7, 2014). "Angela Merkel: Victoria Nuland's remarks on EU are unacceptable". Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  29. ^ "Ukraine's Arseniy Yatsenyuk warns of tough days ahead". BBC News. February 26, 2014.
  30. ^ Atlas, Terry; Gaouette, Nicole (February 6, 2013). "Intercepted Phone Call Shows U.S. Role in Ukraine". Retrieved February 6, 2014.
  31. ^ a b Leaked audio reveals embarrassing US exchange on Ukraine, EU, Reuters (February 6, 2014)
  32. ^ "Ukraine crisis: Transcript of leaked Nuland-Pyatt call". BBC News. February 7, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
  33. ^ Gearan, Anne. In recording of U.S. diplomat, blunt talk on Ukraine, Washington Post, February 6, 2014.
  34. ^ Angela Merkel: Victoria Nuland's remarks on EU are unacceptable, The Guardian (February 7, 2014)
  35. ^ "U.S. diplomat plays down leaked call; Germany's Merkel angry". Reuters. February 7, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  36. ^ Kauffmann, Sylvie (February 9, 2014), "Les cinq leçons du " fuck the EU ! " d'une diplomate américaine" [The five lessons of "fuck the EU" from an American diplomat], Le Monde, retrieved February 9, 2014
  37. ^ Clinton, Hillary Rodham (2017). What Happened. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781501175565.
  38. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (January 24, 2018). "Opinion | A year of Trump foreign policy: More is broken than the State Department". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  39. ^ Hudson, John (January 7, 2018). "Trump Administration Set for Broad Engagement with Russia in Early 2018". BuzzFeed. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  40. ^ "Were 1998 Memos a Blueprint for War?". ABC News. Retrieved January 10, 2021.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Nicholas Burns
United States Ambassador to NATO
Succeeded by
Kurt Volker
Political offices
Preceded by
Philip Crowley
Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
Succeeded by
Jen Psaki
Preceded by
Philip Gordon
Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Succeeded by
John A. Heffern
Preceded by
David Hale
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs