Moscow might send a tough new ambassador to Washington

In December, President Putin transferred Antonov from the Defense Ministry to the Foreign Ministry, appointing him a deputy foreign minister. Photo: Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov at a Defense Ministry briefing in Moscow.

In December, President Putin transferred Antonov from the Defense Ministry to the Foreign Ministry, appointing him a deputy foreign minister. Photo: Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov at a Defense Ministry briefing in Moscow.

RIA Novosti
The Kremlin wants to appoint a hardliner as Russia's new ambassador to Washington despite a thaw in relations between the countries.

Moscow is preparing to replace its ambassador to the U.S., and according to media reports the Kremlin is considering a diplomat specializing in military affairs for the post.

Anatoly Antonov, a career diplomat who until December served for five years as a deputy defense minister, is widely believed to be the main candidate for the post of the Russian ambassador to the U.S., Kommersant reported (in Russian). 

In December, President Putin transferred Antonov from the Defense Ministry to the Foreign Ministry, appointing him a deputy foreign minister.

“At the Defense Ministry, Anatoly Antonov oversaw international cooperation and, since moving to the Foreign Ministry, has started dealing with issues of military-political security,” wrote Kommersant (in Russian).

The paper quotes four anonymous sources in the Russian government as saying that the Kremlin decided to appoint a hardliner in relations with the U.S. in fall 2016 when Russia’s political leadership was preparing for Hillary Clinton’s victory and thus, for growing tensions in bilateral relations.

Although Clinton did not win and President Donald Trump is known for more mild rhetoric toward Moscow, the Kremlin still considers Antonov its main candidate for the post, wrote Kommersant. A final decision has not yet been made and other candidates, whose names are not disclosed, are also under consideration. Sources close to Antonov, however, deny rumors of his possible appointment.

Antonov has considerable experience in military and political issues in Russian-U.S. relations. He has led Russian government delegations at numerous negotiations, including talks with the U.S. on the new START agreement. In 2015, Antonov, together with other Russian state officials, was placed on the EU sanctions list. 

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