US Senate confirmed former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman to be U.S. ambassador to Russia.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination, also by voice vote, earlier this week; Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, the committee’s top Democrat, later said that if Trump was going to make the Russian ambassadorship a political appointment, he couldn’t have made a better choice than Huntsman, the Washington Post reported.
Anatoly Antonov, appointed in August as Russia's top diplomat in the United States, has congratulated his US counterpart on the Senate confirmation.
"I would like to congratulate Amb Huntsman on his new high, challenging post in Moscow, wish him success in restoring [US-Russia] relations," the Embassy in Washington D.C. cited him as saying.
Huntsman told senators earlier this month that he believed the findings of the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Huntsman, 57, speaks Chinese and has seven children. In 1992-1993, Huntsman headed the US diplomatic mission in Singapore at the age of 32, becoming the youngest US ambassador over the past 100 years. He was governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009 and previously served as ambassador to China under Barack Obama between 2009 and 2011.
The director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Yuri Rogulev, speaking with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Huntsman will be a difficult US ambassador to Russia in a difficult time for diplomatic work. "The foreign policy of the US president and the State Department towards Russia is subjected to all sorts of attacks and criticism, especially since Huntsman is a compromise figure. Although he has diplomatic experience, he has political experience as well, and his family is very influential due to the very large-scale business of Huntsman corporation, which has interests in Russia. That is, he is an independent person, and it is unclear yet whether he will be in line with the current administration," he explained.
It is important that Huntsman is not an opponent of Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson. "He is a right-conservative politician, a businessman and a politician at the same time as the current president and secretary of state. It means that one can expect a combination of common sense and conservatism from his work. It seems to me that this appointment is important for Russia, because Huntsman is not a pass-through politician, and he has the potential to improve the relations," Yuri Rogulev stressed.
"Of course, it won't be easy for him. The general mood in the United States towards Russia is hostile. The problem is that a significant part of the American elite occupies precisely the anti-Russian position, including the Congress. At the same time, both Trump and Tillerson have intentions to improve relations with Russia. In this situation, Huntsman will have to take into account both the interests of the Washington administration and the general situation. But we should not expect great progress in any case," the director of the Roosevelt Fund of Study of the US at Moscow State University, Doctor of Historical Sciences concluded.