Anatoly Antonov, The Next Russian Ambassador to the United States
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Anatoly Antonov, The Next Russian Ambassador to the United States

Anatoly Antonov, The Next Russian Ambassador to the United States

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On August 21 (Monday), Seasoned diplomat Anatoly Antonov has been appointed as Russia's new ambassador to the United States, at a time when ties between these two countries are at a dangerously low ebb. 

“According to the President’s decree, Anatoly Antonov is appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the United States and the permanent observer of the Russian Federation at the Organization of American States in Washington,” the statement on the Russian presidential website reads.

He began his career in 1978 shortly after graduating from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.In 2004-2011, he headed the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Department, while in 2011-2016, Antonov served as deputy defense minister. In December 2016, he was appointed deputy foreign minister.

The 62-year-old diplomat will replace Sergey Kislyak, who was in charge of maintaining Russia-US relations for almost a decade before he ended his tenure in July. 

The outgoing Ambassador Kislyak had a reputation as a low-profile diplomat who rarely gave interviews but has burst into the spotlight due to a series of meetings with members of the Trump team during the election campaign, including with Jeff Sessions, who was later appointed attorney general and initially denied meeting the Russian.

According to the Washington Post based on U.S. intelligence reports,  Kislyak has also told his superiors in Moscow that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, had proposed setting up a secret back-channel with the Russians.

Antonov’s job at Washington seems to remain difficult given the current climate of bilateral relations between U.S and Russia. Apparently, his first priority would be to avoid further scandals and create many opportunities for increased cooperation. 

According to Alexander Gabuev from the Carnegie Moscow Center - "Anatoly is a hardliner, who understands the issues he talks about and knows the West quite well", He further added - "He is a loyal supporter of the Kremlin line, but not a blind believer in conspiracy theories as many of his peers in the Russian military and intelligence community are."