What to expect from new U.S. Ambassador to Russia
Jon Huntsman remains the most probable nominee for the post of the next U.S. Ambassador to Russia. After his nomination was put forward by President Donald Trump, it has yet to be approved by the U.S. Senate.
Speaking about what we could expect from Huntsman as a U.S. envoy to Russia, it should be noted that very often in American political practice, it’s not professionals in any given field but "political appointees" who get to occupy diplomatic or government posts. This is because, for centuries, the state apparatus in America has been functioning quite well. That is, the structure clearly knows how to act, enjoys an established system of operations, and there are rules by which this structure functions. And when the administration changes, these operations don’t change in any way. Political priorities do change but this machine keeps working in accordance with the long established rules ...
…for centuries, the state apparatus in America has been functioning quite well
So there are never any worries about the appointment to such positions of people who may not have sufficient training because they are surrounded by a huge number of true professionals, the advisors who at any given moment can help may make a weighted decision. Therefore, there’s no need to be concerned whether the general course remains correct.
Even in the case with Donald Trump, all his inadequate statements voiced during the campaign have practically turned into an absolute opposite. Why is that? Well, because the state apparatus and the system of checks and balances, do not allow anyone, even the president, doing stupid things. In my opinion, this is what any democracy should seek: to create an opportunity to adjust anything if it goes beyond reasonable.
... there will be no unexpected compromises with Russia in the U.S. position
This case is yet another example. Huntsman has already been a governor [Utah] and an ambassador [to China and Singapore]. He has worked with several U.S. presidents. He even was a presidential candidate.
That is, Huntsman is a political figure, therefore Trump decided that a political figure of such level and weight will be a completely acceptable choice in order to properly defend U.S. interests in Russia. Given the fact that U.S.-Russia relations have reached their lowest point since the "Cold War" and may deteriorate even further, this post requires a real tough guy, but at the same time, the one who is influential and able to hold their ground and keep a firm stance. So this choice by Donald Trump is no accident. That’s because it demonstrates that there will be no unexpected compromises with Russia in the U.S. position.
If the stance towards Russia will remain quite tough, as has been so far (security first and then political decisions, obligations first and the sanctions lift), it will be the best kind of help for Ukraine.
Volodymyr Ohryzko is a diplomat, head of the Russian Research Center, ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine