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Alexander Vindman

Alexander Semyon Vindman (born June 6, 1975)[1] is a United States Army lieutenant colonel who serves as the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council (NSC). Vindman came to national attention in October 2019 when he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal.

Alexander Vindman
Alexander Vindman on May 20, 2019.jpg
Personal details
Born
Александр Семенович Виндман
Alexander Semenovich Vindman

(1975-06-06) June 6, 1975 (age 44)
Kiev, Soviet Union (now Ukraine)
EducationBinghamton University (BA)
Cornell University
Harvard University (MPA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1999–present
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsPurple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2)
Army Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Army Commendation Medal (4)
Army Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Army Achievement Medal (2)
Valorous Unit Award ribbon.svg Army Valorous Unit Award
U.S. Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg Navy Unit Commendation
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation

Commissioned in 1999 as an infantry officer, Vindman received a Purple Heart medal for wounds he received from an IED attack in the Iraq War in 2004.[2][3] Vindman became a foreign area officer specializing in Eurasia in 2008, and assumed his current position as Director for European Affairs with the NSC in 2018.

Early life

Alexander Semyon Vindman (né Aleksandr Semenovich Vindman) and his identical twin brother Yevgeny were born to a Jewish family in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union.[3] After the death of their mother, the three-year-old twins and their older brother Leonid were brought to New York in December 1979 by their father, Semyon (Simon). They grew up in Brooklyn's "Little Odessa" neighborhood. A photograph of the twins with their maternal grandmother briefly appears in the Ken Burns documentary The Statue of Liberty.[3] Vindman speaks fluent Russian and Ukrainian.[4][5]

Vindman graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton with a bachelor of arts degree in 1998.[2][3] He received a commission into the Army's Infantry Branch in January 1999.[2] He later received a master of arts degree from Harvard University in Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian studies.[3]

Career

 
Vindman (far left) at the 2019 inauguration of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky

After graduating from State University of New York at Binghamton in 1998, Vindman joined the United States Army and became a career Army officer.[3] He completed the Infantry Officer Basic Course (IOBC) at Fort Benning in 1999 and deployed the next year to South Korea, where he commanded infantry and an anti-armor platoon.[3] In addition to overseas deployments to South Korea and Germany, Vindman is a combat veteran.[3] He was deployed to Iraq to take part in the Iraq War from September 2004 to September 2005.[2] In October 2004,[2] he sustained an injury from a roadside bomb in Iraq, for which he received a Purple Heart.[3] He was promoted to the rank of major in 2008,[6] and to lieutenant colonel in September 2015.[7]

During his Army career, Vindman earned the Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge and Parachutist Badge, as well as four Army Commendation Medals and two Defense Meritorious Service Medals.[2]

Beginning in 2008, Vindman became a Foreign Area Officer specializing in Eurasia. In this capacity he served in the U.S. embassies in Kiev, Ukraine, and Moscow, Russia. Returning to Washington, D.C. he was then a politico-military affairs officer focused on Russia for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Vindman served on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon from September 2015 to July 2018.[2] In July 2018, Vindman accepted an assignment with the National Security Council.[8] In his role on the NSC, Vindman became part of the U.S. delegation at the inauguration of the Ukraine's newly elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky. The five-member delegation, led by Rick Perry, United States Secretary of Energy, also included Kurt Volker, then U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Gordon Sondland, United States Ambassador to the European Union, and Joseph Pennington, then acting chargé d'affaires.[9][10]

Vindman was subpoenaed to testify before Congressional investigators on October 29, 2019, as part of the U.S. House of Representatives' impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.[11][12] He is the first White House official to testify who was actually on a July 25, 2019, telephone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump asked Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is campaigning for President. Based on his opening statement, obtained in advance by The New York Times, Vindman's testimony corroborates previous testimony from Fiona Hill, his former manager, and William B. Taylor Jr., acting Ambassador to Ukraine.[13]

Trump–Ukraine testimony

On October 28, 2019, Vindman's opening statement to a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and House Oversight Committee was released, ahead of his testimony the following day. Vindman testified that: "In Spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false and alternative narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency," which was "harmful to U.S. national security" and also "undermined U.S. Government efforts to expand cooperation with Ukraine."[8]

 
Official Opening Statement of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman Before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform October 29, 2019 (released October 28, 2019)

Vindman states that, additionally, he was concerned by two events, both to which he objected to senior officials in real time, and which he reported to the National Security Council's lead attorney. The first event occurred at a July 10 meeting between Ukraine's then Secretary of National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Danylyuk, and then US National Security Advisor John Bolton, at which Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were in attendance, and at which Sondland asked Ukraine to launch investigations into the Bidens in order to get a meeting with President Trump. Vindman states that Bolton cut the meeting short, and that both he and Fiona Hill told Ambassador Sondland that his comments were inappropriate, and that he reported the concerns to the NSC's lead counsel.[14]

The second event occurred on a July 25 phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky. Vindman states, "I was concerned by the call. I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government's support of Ukraine. I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security." Vindman also stated that he reported his concern to the NSC's lead counsel, John Eisenberg.[8]

Personal life

Vindman is married. His identical twin brother, Yevgeny S. Vindman, is an Army lieutenant colonel and JAG Officer who is assigned as an attorney on the National Security Council staff handling ethics issues.[3][15] Vindman has an older brother, Leonid Vindman, who was also commissioned as an officer in the Army.[15]

Military awards

See also

References

  1. ^ Volz, Dustin; Restuccia, Andrew; Hughes, Siobhan (October 29, 2019). "Parties Spar Over White House Aide in Combative Impeachment Hearing". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Rempfer, Kyle (October 29, 2019). "Purple Heart, Ranger tab, FAO: Meet the Army officer testifying about Trump's Ukraine". Army Times. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (October 29, 2019). "Who Is Alexander Vindman? A Ukrainian Refugee Turned White House Official Testifies in the Impeachment Inquiry". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  4. ^ Hakim, Danny (October 29, 2019). "Army Officer Who Heard Trump's Ukraine Call Reported Concerns". The New York Times.
  5. ^ Kitman, Carol. "The Vindman Twins". Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  6. ^ Nominations. Congressional Record Online (Report). 154. Government Publishing Office. September 16, 2008. p. S8894. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  7. ^ Nominations. Congressional Record Online (Report). 161. Government Publishing Office. September 8, 2015. p. S6471. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c Kelly, Amita (October 28, 2019). "Ukraine Expert Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman's Opening Statement". NPR. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Presidential Delegation to Attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine". White House Press Office (Press release). May 18, 2019. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  10. ^ "President Zelensky addresses heads of foreign delegations" (PDF). The Ukrainian Weekly. LXXXVII (22). June 2, 2019. p. 3. Retrieved October 30, 2019.
  11. ^ Cohen, Zachary; Tapper, Jake; LeBlanc, Paul (October 28, 2019). "White House Ukraine expert expected to testify about possible knowledge of Trump-Zelensky call". CNN. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  12. ^ Andrews, Natalie; Tau, Byron (October 28, 2019). "House to Vote on a Road Map for Its Impeachment Inquiry". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  13. ^ Jaffe, Greg (October 28, 2019). "White House official to tell impeachment investigators he feared President Trump's demands of Ukraine would undermine national security". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  14. ^ "Read national security official Alexander S. Vindman's prepared remarks to Congress". NBC News. October 29, 2019. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  15. ^ a b Siu, Benjamin (October 29, 2019). "Who is Alexander Vindman, the Army officer defying the White House to testify about Trump's Ukraine call?". ABC News. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  16. ^ Britzky, Haley (October 29, 2019). "Here's the military record of Lt. Col. Vindman, the soldier testifying at Trump's impeachment inquiry". Task & Purpose. Retrieved October 30, 2019.