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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, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, 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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