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Senate Committee approves John Sullivan as next US Ambassador to Russia

Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan (U.S. Department of State/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has approved John Sullivan, a deputy secretary of state, as the country’s ambassador to Russia.

“I am very pleased to see John Sullivan’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to Russia advance to the full Senate,” Chairman Jim Risch said in a statement on November 20 after the committee’s approval of Sullivan.

“As we face a resurgent Russia that seeks to undermine the global order and regain the prestige it held during the height of the Soviet Union, it is important we make clear to the Russian people that we value our relationship with them. Mr. Sullivan’s experience as deputy secretary of state has given him a clear view of the numerous problems we have with Russia and the experience to navigate both the U.S. and Russian systems. I hope the Senate will confirm Mr. Sullivan soon,” he added.

If approved, Sullivan would replace Jon Huntsman, who stepped down on October 3, ending two years at the post dominated by issues such as U.S. sanctions on Russia and a row that led to diplomats being expelled from both countries.

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Sullivan was seen by some as a surprise choice for the Moscow role given his limited diplomatic experience.

Sullivan is “not known as a big player in the Washington policy process,” Stephen Sestanovich, who served as the State Department’s ambassador at large to the former Soviet Union during the Clinton administration, told The New York Times in August, when Sullivan’s name was first mentioned as a likely replacement for Huntsman.

Sullivan worked as a lawyer before he joined the Trump administration in 2017. He previously served in the George H.W. Bush administration as a Justice Department official and under President George W. Bush in the Defense and Commerce departments.