United States Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman has sent a resignation letter to US President Donald Trump saying that he planned to step down in October. Huntsman, who unlike his predecessors in Moscow, came to diplomacy from politics and tried to reverse the negative trend of recent years, through his resignation revealed a growing crisis in Russian-American relations, Kommersant writes.
The ambassador’s letter to Trump, with whom, according to US sources, Huntsman is on friendly terms, is emotionally-tinged and does not adhere to the style of a formal document. The part of the letter devoted to Russian-US ties contains an outspoken regret over the fact that relations between Moscow and Washington are going through such a difficult period. While resorting to harsh rhetoric against Russia, Ambassador Huntsman, nevertheless, stressed that “while times are tough, it is critical that we expand the exchanges of people and maintain channels for dialogue” on key issues.
Commenting on Huntsman’s letter to Trump, former US Ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul told the paper that he was not surprised to hear that Huntsman decided to tender his resignation. He noted that there were no favorable conditions for reset in bilateral relations during Huntsman’s tenure in Moscow.
During their work, Jon Huntsman and his Russian counterpart in Washington Anatoly Antonov encountered the same problem: high-ranking officials were reluctant to meet with them. Anticipating these difficulties, the two envoys agreed in the autumn of 2017 to assist each other in arranging such meetings. However, the endeavor did not work out, a Russian diplomatic source told the paper. While some Russian officials agreed to meet with Hutsman, Antonov often receives refusals in response to his requests.
In order to elicit a positive response from high-ranking Russian officials, in 2018, the US ambassador posted a video on Twitter, elaborating on whom he would like to meet. He mentioned Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov, Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Energy Minister Alexander Novak among others. Some of them, including Valentina Matviyenko and Valery Gerasimov, eventually agreed to meet with Huntsman.
Therefore, in addition to calling on his future successor to maintain “sustained dialogue,” Jon Hutsman left him a long list of potential participants in that dialogue, which he himself was unable to complete.