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Washington Seeks Moscow's Approval of New Ambassador

Published: July 1, 2014 (Issue # 1817)



  • John Tefft served as ambassador to both Ukraine and Georgia in the past decade, and as a top diplomat in Moscow in the 1990s.
    Photo: U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine

Washington has requested Moscow's formal approval of its appointment of John Tefft as U.S. ambassador to Russia, a source in the Foreign Ministry told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday. Tefft served as ambassador to both Ukraine and Georgia in the past decade, and as a top diplomat in Moscow in the 1990s.

"They have agreed on this candidate in Washington and have sent us a request for approval I cannot say whether we have agreed or not," the source said.

Unlike his predecessor Michael McFaul, a political science professor at Stanford, Tefft has more than 40 years of experience in the foreign service.

He served as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine between 2009 and 2013, and to Georgia between 2005 and 2009. His time at the helm of the U.S. Embassy to Georgia included the five-day war between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia in 2008. Between 1996 and 1999 Tefft served as deputy chief of mission in Moscow .

He will be expected to convey a no-nonsense message to Moscow as part of the U.S. strategy of minimizing cooperation between the two countries after Russia and the West locked horns over Ukraine earlier this year, Kommersant reported earlier on Monday.

"The White House has finalized its new policy toward Russia. There will be no new reset, and in the remaining 2 1/2 years Barack Obama's administration will be trying to minimize the cooperation with Russia," Kommersant reported, quoting a source in the U.S. State Department.

But despite a shifting U.S. policy and Tefft's high-profile stints in former Soviet states that have drifted out of Moscow's orbit, he is likely to gain Russia's approval, Kommersant reported.

He will not promote any ambitious policies designed to achieve a breakthrough in relations, said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a think tank with close ties to the Foreign Ministry.

"Tefft will execute Washington's policy and unlike MacFaul, who was sent by U.S. President Barack Obama to pursue a 'reset' his signature foreign policy, Tefft will have no mission at all," he told The St. Petersburg Times by telephone.

Still, the appointment process will likely drag as Republicans in the U.S. are presently occupied with trying to torpedo all of Obama's foreign policy initiatives, Lukyanov said.

"The process will be tedious, but today it does not make much of a difference, as Obama does not have a major policy toward Russia," he said.

Since McFaul's departure last February, Sheila Gwaltney who was deputy head of mission during McFaul's tenure has been filling in as top U.S. diplomat in Moscow.





 

ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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