Russia likes Ambassador Huntsman

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
The appointment of Jon Huntsman as the new U.S. ambassador to Russia is designed to kill two birds with one stone for Donald Trump’s administration, believe Russian policy experts. Besides distancing himself from the accusations of alleged ties to Russia that have rocked Trump’s entourage since he was sworn into office, the appointment sends a number of signals to the Kremlin. Furthermore, it is designed to demonstrate a certain vision for bilateral relations to Russian leaders.

Great power games

“Being a former ambassador to China, Huntsman knows how to do business with great powers, and this is a very important signal. It means the Trump administration does not intend to democratize or adjust Russia in any other way to suit its short-term interests,” said Dmitry Suslov, a professor at the Higher School of Economics and program director at the Valdai Discussion Club.

If this assumption is correct, Russians are likely to view Huntsman as a stark contrast to Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia (2012-2014) and expert in the promotion of democracy who was widely disliked in the country for his policy positions and approach to diplomacy.

“Huntsman has a different approach a priori. He sees Russia as a foreign power with a different political culture,” said Suslov.
More: Russian pundits praise Trump's pick for new ambassador to Russia | Russia Beyond The Headlines

Obama's Ambassador, John Tefft, wasn't afraid to defy Putin, he met with various opposition figures, was friends with Boris Nemtsov, and when Nemtsov was murdered, personally came to lay flowers on that bridge together with regular Russian Nemtsov supporters

Same can be said of McFaul, Tefft's predecessor.

But Russians clearly expect very different behavior from Trump's Huntsman.

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