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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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