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US Ambassador to Russia steps down after concluding assignment, leaves Moscow

John J. Sullivan (U.S. Department of State/Flickr)
September 05, 2022

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

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan has completed his assignment as envoy to Moscow and has departed the Russian capital, the embassy said on September 4.

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Elizabeth Rood will serve as charge d’affaires at the embassy until a replacement is named, the embassy said. Rood was last month nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan and is awaiting Senate confirmation for that position.

The embassy did not provide further details about Sullivan’s departure. His exit had not been previously announced and there was no immediate explanation for the sudden announcement.

The Washington Post quoted an unnamed State Department official as saying “Ambassador Sullivan’s departure is planned and part of a normal diplomatic rotation.”

“He has served a full tenure as U.S. ambassador to Russia, managing one of the most critical bilateral relationships in the world during unprecedented times,” the official told the newspaper.

Sullivan was nominated by then-President Donald Trump to the post in December 2019 and served nearly three years during some of the most tense times in U.S.-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War.

Sullivan was asked by incoming President Joe Biden to remain in his post when Biden was inaugurated in January 2021.

During his tenure, the United States and the West slapped a growing number of sanctions on Moscow and Russian individuals to punish the Kremlin for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The State Department official told The Washington Post that “the U.S. will continue to condemn unequivocally the Kremlin’s aggressive war against Ukraine and remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

One of Sullivan’s final acts as the U.S. envoy came on September 3 when he attended the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last ruler of the Soviet Union who died on August 30 at age 91.

“Following his departure, he will retire from a career in public service that has spanned four decades and five U.S. presidents,” the embassy statement said.