US Ambassador to Russia Leaves Post

WASHINGTON—The U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, ended his tenure as America’s top diplomat in Moscow on Sunday after nearly three years, spanning the Trump and Biden administrations, and will retire from a lengthy career in government service.

His departure, which comes in the midst of an increasingly serious crisis over Russia’s war in Ukraine as well as disputes over detained Americans in Russia, had been expected this fall as he reached the usual length of time for U.S. ambassadors.

“Ambassador Sullivan’s departure is planned and part of a normal diplomatic rotation,” the State Department said. “He has served a full tenure as U.S. ambassador to Russia, managing one of the most critical bilateral relationships in the world during unprecedented times.”

The department added: “The U.S. will continue to condemn unequivocally the Kremlin’s aggressive war against Ukraine and remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the war has slowed to a grind with both sides trading combat strikes and small advances in the east and south.

Elizabeth Rood, the deputy chief of mission to Russia, will be the top U.S. diplomat in Moscow until a successor nominated by President Joe Biden replaces Sullivan.

A Boston native and big ice hockey fan who brought his skates and equipment when he left for Russia, Sullivan had returned to Moscow from a summer break just last week and had attended former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s memorial service on Saturday.

Since U.S. sanctions were placed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in February, Sullivan has struggled to hold together a diplomatic mission dramatically reduced in staff as Washington and Moscow carried out an increasingly severe series of tit-for-tat expulsions.

Sullivan spoke frequently of his frustrations about deteriorating conditions for U.S. diplomats in Moscow, especially after Russian restrictions on American and local personnel forced major reductions in staffing.

His four-decade public service career included postings in Republican administrations as deputy secretary of state and senior positions in the departments of Justice, Defense, and Commerce.

Sullivan was deputy secretary of state when he was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate with unusually strong bipartisan support to be ambassador to Russia in December 2019. Biden asked him to remain in the post when Biden took office last year.

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