Amid a critical phase in the war in Ukraine, a key member of the Biden administration is walking away from Washington.
Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried is leaving to be with her family, according to Reuters.
“For the last 18 months, Dr. Karen Donfried has led the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs with the utmost skill and commitment during a pivotal time. As she prepares to depart the Department at the end of the month, I thank Karen for her tremendous service to the Department and the American people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, according to a statement posted on the Department of State’s website.
“Karen has 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,” Blinken said.
I express my deep gratitude to my friend and colleague Karen Donfried as she departs the @StateDept. She led the EUR Bureau with utmost distinction during a time of crisis, managing our relationships with our European allies with extraordinary skill. She’ll be missed by all.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 20, 2023
Her successor has not yet been picked, according to Reuters.
Donfried led the Bureau of Europe and Eurasian Affairs which covers 50 nations.
Donfried was a senior director for Europe at the National Security Council in the Obama administration and a member of the State Department’s policy planning team in the administration of former President George W. Bush.
Her departure comes at a time when Russia is gaining the upper hand in one key battle in Ukraine, according to The New York Times.
Neither @NATO or Biden have clearly declared what the goals in Ukraine actually are. We have had no strategy. The effect has been to prolong this war, increase casualties and damage, and give Russia more of a chance over time as the much larger https://t.co/JXAJUCvU7N… https://t.co/KYboIqdqiz
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) March 19, 2023
Further, allies are positioning themselves for a long fight, according to an Op-Ed in The Hill by Jonathan Sweet and Mark Toth.
“Georgia, Moldova, Hungary and Turkey are four examples of eastern European and Black Sea countries hedging bets because the Biden administration seems not to be in it to win the war outright,” they wrote.
The departure is also part of the long-running Biden administration turnover.
A top aide to first lady Jill Biden is leaving, according to NBC, citing the departure of Rory Brosiuis from the Joining Forces project.
Last month, Carla Frank, who worked for President Joe Biden for six years and was the deputy director of the Office of Political Strategy and Outreach, left the administration, according to Politico. This year has also the departures of former Chief of Staff Ron Klain, communications director Kate Bedingfield and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh.
A Brookings Institution study put the turnover rate of Biden’s top-level aides at the second highest since Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
The epicenter of turnover in the Biden administration has been the office of Vice president Kamala Harris. As of last July, 13 key aides had departed, according to The Hill.
Overall, through July 2022, the Biden White House lost staff faster than either of its predecessors, according to a Daily Mail report on an Open the Books staff analysis.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.