Veteran diplomat is next top envoy to US

Mr Anatoly Antonov has been described as a hardliner regarding ties with the US, but also a realist.
Mr Anatoly Antonov has been described as a hardliner regarding ties with the US, but also a realist.

MOSCOW • Russian President Vladimir Putin has named a career diplomat and arms control expert who is under European Union sanctions as the next Russian ambassador to the United States, replacing an envoy drawn into the swirling questions surrounding contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

The appointment of Mr Anatoly Antonov, 62, a deputy foreign minister and, somewhat unusually for a diplomat, a former deputy defence minister, had been anticipated. He is to start on Sept 1.

Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, 66, who has been the Russian envoy to the US since 2008, is due to retire from the diplomatic service. He told associates earlier this year that the controversy over his meetings with US President Donald Trump's advisers prompted many in Washington to avoid him, and had made the US capital a lonely place.

Mr Antonov is stepping into a demanding assignment after nearly 30 years in the Russian diplomatic service, where he has been a deputy foreign minister since December. He has been described as a determined negotiator and a hardliner regarding ties with the US, but also a realist who has echoed the official line that the two nations have too many overlapping interests not to cooperate.

Known as a gruff but intelligent interlocutor, he has a long history working in arms control and diplomatic outreach for the Ministry of Defence on issues like the Syria war.

In February 2015, he was listed among officials sanctioned by the EU and Canada for involvement in the March 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. He was often seen as a blunt proponent of Russia's position, with talk that he was anointed as Mr Kislyak's successor in anticipation of a tough relationship with a Clinton administration, which did not come to pass.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 23, 2017, with the headline 'Veteran diplomat is next top envoy to US'. Print Edition | Subscribe