According to reports, Moscow is preparing to send to Washington a new Ambassador, and, as history shows, it can fit in the new political realities of this city.
On Monday, several Russian news agencies reported that the Kremlin is considering the appointment to this post Anatoly Antonov, a supporter of “hard-line”, who now holds the position of Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs. Antonov — a figure well known to US diplomats, some of them described it as a tough, well-trained negotiator, who can also be stubborn advocate if the need arises.
“He’s a force with which to be reckoned,” said Foreign Policy Matthew Rojansky (Rojansky Matthew), Director of the Kennan Institute at the Wilson Center. “If Moscow wants to continue to have in Washington a first-class team, his appointment makes sense”.
61-year-old Antonov made a career diplomat and in December was appointed Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs. Prior to that, he held the post of Deputy Minister of defense of Russia and became the face of the Kremlin’s interference in the Affairs of Syria, aimed at supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Antonov held numerous briefings for the press on this issue. He also was the driving force behind the invasion of Moscow in Ukraine in 2014.
Because of the events in Ukraine, where in recent times there has been a surge of fighting between Russian-backed separatists and government troops, Antonov was also on the list of EU sanctions in 2015.
Demonstrating the ability to inflict painful blows, Antonov played a leading role in a verbal war of Moscow with Turkey after it was shot down by a Russian aircraft on the border between Turkey and Syria in 2015. He loudly voiced Moscow’s accusations of the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was allegedly involved in illegal oil trade with Islamic state (a terrorist organization banned in Russia — approx. ed.). Moscow has retracted these statements after the improvement of relations between the two countries.
The Minister has years of experience negotiating with American officials. He was the chief representative in the negotiations on the agreement SNV-III in 2010, and also collaborated with the American diplomat rose Gottemoeller (Rose Gottemoeller), the current Deputy Secretary General of NATO. One US official told FP that Antonov has earned the respect of Americans through his business manner of conducting rapid negotiations.
After the Lisbon NATO summit in 2010, Antonov again became the chief representative in negotiations with the USA on cooperation in the sphere of missile defense.
“The negotiations started very constructively,” — said Alexander Vershbow (Alexander Vershbow), a senior Pentagon official, who also participated in the negotiations. But after a year of negotiations, the Russian team changed course, deciding not to give the US and NATO to deploy missiles in Europe. “Then, Antonov has been a brilliant filibuster king, adversary and advocate”, while Moscow has not completed negotiations with the United States and NATO in 2013, said Vershbow, who in October resigned from the post of Deputy Secretary-General of NATO.
In 2015 and 2016 Antonov also stood at the head of Russia’s attempts to begin negotiations with the civilian U.S. officials in the Pentagon to make sure that the aircraft of the USA and Russia keeping a distance in the skies over Syria.
Reports in the Russian newspaper “Kommersant” indicate that several metacinnabar when it seemed that the democratic candidate Hillary Clinton becomes President, the Kremlin listened to Antonov. Dogmatic views Antonov was considered an advantage during interaction with Clinton and to navigate the relations between the U.S. and Russia, which, according to the assumptions of the Kremlin, had become strained.
Despite the unfortunate victory trump and more conciliatory tone toward Russia, Antonov, apparently, still meets these requirements. But it will be in a completely different Washington.
The administration trump took a more Pro-Russian stance than the Obama team, and is considering the idea of lifting the sanctions the US (unilaterally) against Russian companies and individuals, as well as plans to collaborate with Russian forces in Syria to combat “Islamic state.”
An anonymous Advisor to officials of the national security of the United States told FP that the main advisers of trump, in particular, the White house strategist Steve Bannon (Steve Bannon) and the national security Advisor, Michael Flynn (as Michael Flynn), consider Russia as a potential partner. “Not that they were worshippers of Russia. They believe, that in this scheme, Russia is not a real problem. We need to rethink how we work with Russia, and, in the end, Russia can actually — sometimes — to be a partner for cooperation in such matters as China and radical Islam,” said the official.
Speaking at a conference on terrorism in Moscow in April of last year, Antonov came to the same conclusion and made warnings similar to those which emanate from the White house over the last few weeks.
“Today no one can feel safe, nobody lives on the island,” warned Antonov, adding that the only way to defeat the terrorists arriving from the Middle East, is the cooperation within the international community. “What we did during the Second world war”, — he added.
“Today the obstacle was the political ambitions and selfish national interests of individual countries, which understand that you can’t fight terrorism alone,” he concluded, veiled allusion to the Obama administration.
But the real force Antonov, as all the former ambassadors of Russia, is to arms control. “Whoever was in the White house, nuclear weapons is an important issue for Moscow,” said John Herbst (John Herbst), Director of the Eurasian center of the Atlantic Council and former US Ambassador to Ukraine.
The current Moscow’s Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, appointed after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, was also the Deputy Minister of foreign Affairs before sending to America and did a great job in the field of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Despite his reputation as an uncompromising politician in Washington Antonov will promote the orders of the Kremlin, and not their own.
“He’s a professional, the executor of orders, but not an innovator, said Herbst. — He’s not going to embarrass Moscow and will follow the Kremlin line, whatever it was.”