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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, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg’s showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the team’s website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literature’s most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poet’s birthday. The tragic tenor’s work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russia’s greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Center’s Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test one’s intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only man’s best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during today’s reenactment titled “Winter War: How it Was.” More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie “Black Cat, White Cat,” as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of “Takoy Festival,” a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonight’s festival finale is “Fathers and Sons,” a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenev’s classic about familial relations.



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