U.S. Ambassador in Moscow John Sullivan refused to leave Russia after the Kremlin “advised” him to go to Washington for consultations after the imposition of anti-Russian sanctions.
According to people familiar with Sullivan, he believes that if Russian President Vladimir Putin wants him to leave Moscow, he will have to force him to do so.
“If the Kremlin wants to make Sullivan persona non grata, it would be an escalation. The last ambassador to be expelled from Moscow was George Kennan. He was expelled by Stalin in 1952. I applaud Ambassador Sullivan for continuing his work,” commented Mike McFaul, who was the ambassador to Russia during the Obama presidency.
Later, the publication, citing a U.S. State Department spokesman, reported that Sullivan did agree to go to Washington for a while. However, he will return to Moscow in the near future.
“Ambassador Sullivan will return to the United States this week to visit his family and to meet with members of the new administration with whom he has not had a chance to consult,” he said. According to him, the ambassador will return to Moscow “in the coming weeks,” the State Department said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington deteriorated on April 15 when the U.S. announced sanctions against 30 individuals and companies suspected of trying to influence the presidential election.
The next day, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that it was expelling 10 U.S. diplomats and prohibiting current officials from visiting Russia. And Sullivan was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where he was informed of Moscow’s series of retaliatory measures.