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U.S. Said to Choose New Ambassador to Russia

Published: April 22, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • John Tefft is a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine, Georgia and Lithuania.
    Photo: U.S. Embassy Kiev / Flickr

Amid increasingly chilly relations between the U.S. and Russia, Washington has chosen a new ambassador to Russia who will convey a no-nonsense message as part of a strategy of isolating Moscow from the international community, two media reports said.

The U.S. mission to Russia will be led by John Tefft, a former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, Georgia and Ukraine who is known for his critical stance on the Russian government, The New York Times and Kommersant reported. The reports did not say when the White House was expected to announce the appointment, and the U.S. State Department could not be reached for comment about the reports on Monday due to the Easter holiday.

The ambassadorial post has been vacant since February, when former Ambassador Michael McFaul left the job for personal reasons. The job has acquired additional importance in recent weeks due to the high-stakes negotiations between the U.S., Russia, the European Union and Ukraine over the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

“The U.S. needs a tough representative of its new policy on Russia, which is quote confrontational and antagonistic,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a think tank with close ties to the Foreign Ministry. “Tefft is a very tough and principled diplomat who has never concealed his critical stance with regard to Russia.”

According to Lukyanov, the Obama administration will attempt to further isolate Russia regardless of the outcome of the ongoing political and economic turmoil in Ukraine. The role of the new ambassador to Moscow will be to pursue this policy in a pragmatic and effective way, he said.

“Tefft's appointment would be a good reflection of the current state of the Russia-U.S. relationship,” Lukyanov said by telephone. “The U.S. does not need a political person in Moscow today, it needs a professional diplomat.”

Former Ambassador MacFaul, who now serves as a professor of political science at Stanford University, said on Twitter that he could not confirm Tefft's appointment but added: “He would be a fantastic ambassador. One of the best ambassadors around. Perfect choice.”





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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