The United States Embassy announced that John Sullivan, ambassador to Russia for nearly three years, was stepping down and leaving Moscow. The diplomatic ties between the two nations are more strained than ever. After serving under five U.S. presidents over four decades, Sullivan will retire from the government.
He was appointed ambassador to Russia in December 2019 by former Republican President Donald Trump, who appointed him deputy secretary of state under him. Sullivan was one of the last people to speak at the funeral of Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union.
Following nearly three years in his post, United States Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan stepped down on Sunday. The bilateral diplomatic relations between the two countries have deteriorated more than ever. #JohnSullivan #UnitedStates #Russia #USAmbassadortoRussia pic.twitter.com/0AI6TsFc1r
— Live News Now (@LiveNewsNow6) September 5, 2022
Since June, Elizabeth Rood has served as deputy chief of the mission at the Moscow embassy, and until a successor is named, she will assume the duties of charge d’affaires there. In February, Russia invaded Ukraine, causing a plunge in U.S.-Russian relations that had not been seen since the Cold War. Sullivan served as ambassador to Moscow during this time.
It’s no secret that Sullivan is a loquacious grandchild of Irish immigrants. In a March interview, he expressed a desire to continue advocating on behalf of Americans detained in Russia, including basketball star Brittney Griner, former Paul Whelan, and Marines Trevor. Earlier this year, Reed was released from prison.
Sanctions Against Russian Officials
The conflict in Ukraine has heightened tensions between the United States and Russia, prompting Sullivan to step down. Several sanctions were imposed against Russian officials and businesses earlier this year after Russia invaded Ukraine. These sanctions were aimed at pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw from those actions.
In June, the Justice Department announced that sanctions on Russia had frozen more than $30 billion worth of assets. In a recent statement, the Russian leader accused Washington of prolonging the Ukrainian conflict. Furthermore, the U.S. is seeking the release of former Marine Paul Whelan and WNBA star Brittney Griner, who have been held in Russian custody since last month.
In the State Department’s statement, the U.S. reiterated its support for Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, condemning the Kremlin’s aggressive war against Ukraine unequivocally. A Washington official said the next ambassador to Moscow would be announced “soon” but declined to identify the person.
CNN reported that Sullivan’s departure was planned and part of a normal diplomatic rotation. In addition to serving a “full tenure” as the top U.S. diplomat in Moscow, the ambassador has managed “one of the world’s most critical bilateral relationships in unprecedented times.”