Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs: Who Is Victoria Nuland?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

President Barack Obama has nominated Victoria Nuland to be the next assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Serving as State Department spokesperson since May 2011, Nuland played a major role in editing the administration “talking points” in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year. Nevertheless, recent praise for her nomination from key Senate Republicans suggests that she will be confirmed to succeed Philip Gordon, who was appointed Middle East coordinator for the National Security Council.


Born in 1961, Nuland is the daughter of Yale bioethics and medicine professor Sherwin B. Nuland, the family’s original surname being Nudelman. She earned a B.A. at Brown University in 1983.


A career Foreign Service officer, Nuland says she took the Foreign Service exam on a whim during her senior year at Brown. Her early career assignments included service in Guangzhou, China, from 1985 to 1986; in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in 1987; and in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where she helped open the first U.S. Embassy in 1988.


She spent the next four years focused on the then-faltering Soviet Union, serving on the Soviet Desk from 1988 to 1990, and covering Russian politics at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1991 to 1993.


Back in Washington, she was chief of staff to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott from 1993 to 1996, and deputy director for former Soviet Union affairs from 1997 to 1999.


She also spent two years at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), as a State Department fellow in 1996-1997, when she directed a CFR task force on “Russia, its Neighbors and an Expanding NATO,” and as a “Next Generation” fellow studying the effects of anti-Americanism in 1999-2000.


Nuland served as U.S. deputy permanent representative to NATO, in Brussels, Belgium, from 2000 to 2003, and as principal deputy national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2003 to 2005. Returning to Brussels, Nuland served as permanent representative to NATO from June 20, 2005, to May 2, 2008, when the war in Afghanistan and NATO-Russia issues dominated the agenda.


After a year on the faculty of the National War College in 2008-2009, Nuland served as special envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe from February 2010 to June 2011, when she was named State Department spokesperson.


Nuland speaks Russian and French. She is married to neoconservative writer Robert Kagan, with whom she has two children.

-Matt Bewig


Official Biography

Obama Taps Victoria Nuland for Assistant Secretary (by John Hudson, Foreign Policy)

Alums in the State Dept: No Praying from the Podium (by Beth Schwartzapfel, Brown Alumni Magazine)


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