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U.S. Ambassador McFaul Leaves Post Amid Ukraine Turmoil

Published: February 27, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • McFaul handing over leadership of the U.S. Embassy to Sheila Gwaltney.
    Photo: Twitter / McFaul

Michael McFaul officially relinquished his position as U.S. ambassador to Russia on Wednesday morning, leaving one of the U.S.' most vital diplomatic posts empty amid political upheaval in neighboring Ukraine.

McFaul, known for his active presence on Twitter, wrote goodbyes to Russian users of the microblogging service throughout the morning and tweeted a photo of himself with Sheila Gwaltney, the deputy chief of mission in Moscow, who will head the U.S. Embassy until McFaul's successor is appointed.

Related: Farewell, Ambassador McFaul

A U.S. Embassy representative said there was no official timeline for a replacement to be appointed, and no candidates have been named publicly. But media reports have identified several likely candidates, most of them career diplomats with experience in Eastern Europe.

Kommersant, citing a source close to the U.S. State Department, singled out four candidates currently being considered to head U.S. diplomacy in Moscow, noting that three of them are former ambassadors to Ukraine and hinting that the U.S will be deploying serious diplomatic efforts on Russian soil in favor of Ukraine's prospective turn toward the West.

The first candidate named by the newspaper was John Tefft, who headed the U.S. Embassy in Kiev until July 2013, after having served as ambassador to Georgia and Lithuania. If Tefft were to be appointed as McFaul's successor, he would not be new to the Russian diplomatic scene, having served as the deputy head of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in the late 1990s.

Related: Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Reflects on Time in Office

The two other former ambassadors to Ukraine, Steven Pifer and Carlos Pascual, have also worked on various policy issues in the region. Pifer is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C., and heads its Arms Control and Nonproliferation Initiative. Pascual, who has worked on Russian and Eurasian issues for the State Department since the mid-1990s, is the U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 28


Learn more about the citys upcoming municipal elections during the presentation of the project Road Map for the Municipal Elections being presented this evening in the conference hall on the third floor of Biblioteka at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. Steve Kaddins, a coordinator for Beautiful St. Petersburg, which gives residents an online forum to lodge complaints about infrastructure problems in the city, will be on hand to answer any questions. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. and is open to all.



Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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