The US needs a new ambassador to Russia. John Sullivan left Moscow on Sunday and plans to retire, the US Embassy announced, saying he has "concluded his tenure as US envoy." Appointed by former President Donald Trump, Sullivan held the job for nearly three years. During his tenure, the Russian government imposed increasingly greater restrictions on the embassy, CNN reports. Sullivan attended the funeral Saturday for Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union's last leader.
There had been no word that Sullivan was planning to retire now, per the Washington Post. "Ambassador Sullivan's departure is planned and part of a normal diplomatic rotation," a State Department official said Sunday. "He has served a full tenure as US Ambassador to Russia, managing one of the most critical bilateral relationships in the world during unprecedented times." The official said there will be no change in the US denunciation of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The increased tension with Russia is one reason President Biden asked Sullivan, who has decades of government experience, to stay on in the post when he took office.
The embassy's deputy chief of mission, Elizabeth Rood, will assume Sullivan's duties but not his title until the next ambassador arrives. Rood has been nominated to be ambassador to Turkmenistan. The slow pace of winning confirmation for nominees is another reason Biden kept Sullivan in the job; some of the president's choices have taken more than a year to clear the Senate. It was Sullivan who informed Marie Yovanovitch that she was being removed from her job in 2019 because Trump had "lost confidence" in the US ambassador to Ukraine. (Read more John Sullivan stories.)