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August 28, 2017 No.
7069

Anatoly Antonov, Russia's New Ambassador To The U.S.

On August 21, 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an executive order appointing Anatoly Antonov to serve as Russia’s new ambassador to the United States. The executive order stated: "Under a presidential decree Anatoly Antonov has been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the United States of America and permanent observer of the Russian Federation at the Organization of American States in Washington, the United States of America."[1] Antonov will officially accede to the position on September 1.

Antonov replaces Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, whose lengthy but ill-fated term ended in July. Kislyak had arrived in Washington D.C. in July 2008 and the Russian news agency TASS recapitulated Kislyak's term as ambassador to Washington in a pessimistic tone. Kislyak unfortunately arrived just before an armed conflict between Russia and Georgia erupted over South Ossetia, triggering a sharp deterioration in Russian-American relations in the twilight of George W. Bush's presidency. The eight years of the Barack Obama presidency began on the right foot with an attempt to reset U.S.-Russian relations but concluded with an even steeper decline with Russia standing accused of having interfered in the U.S. electoral process. "The opposition Democratic Party and the media allied with it continue fanning these accusations today as part of an assault on the Republican President Donald Trump."[2]

Kislyak was prominently involved in the controversy over Russia's possible meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Trump's first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn was forced to resign under a cloud following revelations that he had conducted telephone conversations with Kislyak during the campaign. Meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign, between Kislyak and the then Senator Jeff Sessions, currently Trump's Attorney General, also fueled criticism of the Trump administration.[3]

Antonov arrives in the United States amid diplomatic tensions. On August 21, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced that the U.S. consulates in Russia would suspend providing nonimmigrant visas, as a consequence of Russia's decision to trim the U.S. diplomatic staff in retaliation for the new round of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

Anatoli Antonov
Anatoly Antonov (Source: Rbth.com)

 

Bio

Born: 1955

Education: Graduated from (MGIMO) in 1978.

2012, Received his doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations after defending his thesis "Control of Nuclear Armaments As A Factor Guaranteeing National and International Security"

Appointments:

2004-2011, Antonov headed the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Department.

2011-2016, Antonov served as deputy defense minister.

December 2016 – August 2017, Antonov served as deputy foreign minister.

August 21, 2017, Antonov was appointed to be Russia's new Ambassador to the U.S.

In His Own Words

Antonov, with a diplomatic career spanning 39 years also served as a deputy defense minister. He is described as a tough negotiator, who will stand up for Russian interests and since 2014 he has been the chief spokesperson on the crisis in Ukraine. Gazeta.ru published an article, titled "Extraordinary Tough Ambassador," describing Antonov's view of the West in his own words.[4] 

Antonov said in 2015: "They [the Western countries] are trying to punish the states, which have a different viewpoint, according to Western laws, which are not recognized by the UN and the international community. That's what's happening today regarding Russia. The U.S., the EU, Canada and some other states have assumed the role of judges."

Antonov is also quoted as saying that NATO "cannot be the only guarantor of freedom and democracy in the world". He also voiced his suspicion that non-NATO alliance members are treated by NATO as "second-class countries."

(Gazeta.ru, August 21, 2017)

Izvestia: Antonov Is Known As A Professional, Who Is Intolerant Of Unqualified Opponents

The pro-government newspaper Izvestia published an article, titled "Tough Professional," by Andrey Suchentsov, program director of the Valdai Club:[5]

The article noted that the Russian Ambassador to Washington has traditionally been a diplomatic heavyweight in comparison with his opposite number the U.S. Ambassador to Russia. The Russian ambassador serves from 8-10 years whereas the American changes with each administration. Anatoly Dobrynin served as the Soviet Ambassador for 24 years. This provided him with diplomatic experience that could not be matched. Dobrynin began with the Cuban missile crisis and this made him a proponent of détente and dialogue with the U.S. It will be interesting to observe whether his namesake's career in Washington which also starts with severe tensions will follow the same trajectory.


Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin meets with John F. Kennedy at the White House (Source: Inosmi.ru)

"Currently in the U.S., Russia has reclaimed the image of an all-mighty and sophisticated opponent. Definitely, this is an exaggeration. Russia is not the USSR, while the current 'cold war' is held in virtual dimensions in many aspects…

"In the professional sphere Antonov has a reputation of a tough negotiator. When the initial rumors about his possible appointment surfaced at the end on 2016, American colleagues expresses a kind of bewilderment –, as it would have been preferable to appoint a more compliant diplomat, as Trump rather than Clinton had won and it was necessary to restore ties.

"Having said that, Antonov's appointment does not come as a response to this or another outcome of the U.S. elections, and does not signal Russia's desire to escalate the confrontation. Moscow's policy towards Washington has not changed, thus Antonov was chosen as a professional conduit to promote that policy.

"It was never successful to talk to Russia from a position of strength, currently such a talk will be much more difficult. Antonov is known as a tenacious, methodical and professional, negotiator-polemicist, who is frequently intolerant of unqualified opponents. In a certain sense, Antonov's appointment represents a challenge for US diplomacy, since Antonov will require a partner equal to him."

(Iz.ru, August 22, 2017)

 

 

[1] Kremlin.ru, August 21, 2017.

[2] Tass.com, July 6, 2017.

[4] Gazeta.ru, August 21, 2017.

[5] Iz.ru, August 22, 2017.