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Jon Huntsman, US Ambassador to Russia, Resigns

U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon M. Huntsman Jr. will resign from his post effective Oct. 3 — capping a tumultuous two-year tenure in Moscow defined by sinking bilateral relations, despite efforts to stem the damage.”American citizenship is a privilege and I believe the most basic responsibility in return is service to country,” wrote Huntsman in a FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands behind prior to their talks in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, May 14, 2019.Hopeful days early onHuntsman came to Moscow as Trump’s surprise choice for the Russian ambassador’s post — a political appointee and elder Republican statesman with little knowledge of Russia.Moreover, he had little history with a president who seemed to value trusted family and insiders above all else.”The good news is Huntsman doesn’t bring any negative baggage when it comes to Russia,” noted foreign policy analyst Vladimir Frolov in an interview at the time. “But the reality is, he doesn’t have much of a relationship with Trump. He’s not in Trump’s inner circle.”Indeed, Huntsman — a centrist Republican who was ambassador to China in the Obama administration — seemed by nature out of step with the slashing partisan politics of the Trump era.Early on, Huntsman embraced Trump’s calls to improve relations with Moscow — even pushing to open doors in Washington for his Russian counterpart, Anatoly Antonov. “I made it clear when I started this job that I wanted to make sure that wherever the Russian ambassador [had access], then I had similar access, and where I get access, Ambassador Anatoly Antonov should get access,” Huntsman said in FILE – White House national security adviser John Bolton, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman wait to begin talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin in Moscow, June 27, 2018.Search for next ambassador Huntsman is widely rumored to be eyeing a gubernatorial run in Utah.Meanwhile, attention turns to whom Trump may nominate next, with intrigue already in tow.A recent CNN report raised eyebrows when it reported Trump and Putin discussed Huntsman’s departure — and possible successor — during a phone call last week in which Trump offered U.S. assistance to help combat raging wildfires in Siberia. Yet some observers say the charged political environment in Washington means the Moscow post may stay vacant for some time.”Before the U.S. presidential elections in 2020, it’s unlikely we’ll see a new ambassador in Russia,” said Nikolai Zlobin, president of the Center for Global Interests, a Russian think tank based in Washington, in an interview with Moscow’s Business FM radio. “There are not many candidates,” he said, “and not many in Washington are interested in the position.” 

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