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Please enter the digits in the box below:  |  Interviews  |  John Sullivan: President Trump charged me with improving relations between U.S....


January 31, 2020

John Sullivan: President Trump charged me with improving relations between U.S. and Russia

New U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan, who has recently started his mission in Moscow, has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about priorities of his work and assesses the prospects of developing bilateral relations.

Question: How do you perceive the prospects for U.S.-Russia relations now that youve been appointed and begun working in Moscow as the U.S. ambassador? Your predecessor, Jon Huntsman, upon leaving his post hinted he was disappointed with bilateral relations. What priorities are you setting as head of the U.S. Embassy to Russia?

Answer: President Trump has charged me with improving bilateral relations between the United States and Russia. I will do everything I can during my tenure to advance this goal. From my perspective, this means strengthening dialogue between our countries on pressing international issues and conflicts and identifying areas of overlapping mutual interest in which we can engage constructively.

Clearly, there is much work to be done. This starts at the diplomatic level. Foreign Minister Lavrov and I have met previously on several occasions, and I look forward to continuing to work with him in my new role as the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. I have appreciated the warm reception - at all levels - I have received since my arrival. It is my hope that this reflects a shared sense of the opportunity before us to improve aspects of the bilateral relationship.

Q.: President Putin has come up with an initiative to convene a summit of UN Security Council permanent member states to discuss the international agenda. Paris and Beijing have already backed this initiative. What will Washingtons position be? Whats your opinion?

A.: I can confirm that we have received President Putins proposal, which is under consideration in Washington.

The United Nations has been the main forum for discussion among the five Security Council permanent member states for 75 years, since its founding in San Francisco in 1945. We work closely with all members of the Security Council on a regular basis and will continue to do so, wherever those conversations take place.

Q.: Naturally, everyone is interested in whether President Trump will come to Moscow on May 9 for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Victory in WWII. There has been no decision yet, but what is your assessment of the probability of this visit? And a follow-up question: Heated debate is currently ongoing concerning the history and lessons of WWII. What is your personal attitude toward cooperation between the United States and Russia as part of the anti-Hitler coalition during the war?

A.:I dont have any news for you on a presidential visit.

But I will say that the United States is preparing to mark many notable anniversaries this year related to the end of World War Two. While Victory Day in Europe unquestionably represents a significant historical milestone, the United States significant role in the global conflict did not cease on May 8 (or May 9!). The war in the Pacific raged on for almost four more months. So much was lost, and so much must be remembered.

Cooperation between the United States and our allies during the Second World War is an important historical fact. The United States recognizes the immense sacrifice of the peoples of the Soviet Union, and of so many other nations, during those long years. The war was horrific, but it showed how we can work together to achieve a common goal. The Lend-Lease program demonstrated the value of working together to bring in much-needed supplies and equipment. American and Soviet soldiers pushed forward to meet each other at the Elbe to help liberate Europe. On a people-to-people level, American citizens across the United States collected materials and books to restock libraries and school in the Soviet Union that had been looted during the war.

Just this week, I met with Jewish leaders in Russia at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops to underscore the United States commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and preventing anything like that from ever happening again. Our Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman was in St. Petersburg on Monday with American civilian and military colleagues to commemorate the end of the Siege of Leningrad, and to pay tribute to the brave men, women and children who did so much to defend their city.

Q.: Is the United States going to hold serious dialogue with Russia on arms control and strategic stability in light of the death of the INF treaty and the vague prospects for the New START Treaty? Is Washington ready is extend the current START Treaty in order to give the parties more time to discuss a new agreement in this sphere? Do you think its possible to engage China in dialogue on this topic, given Beijings negative reaction to relevant U.S. proposals?

A.: As we have said, the United States is reviewing how to modernize arms control to respond to new challenges. Such frameworks are essential, but they must be comprehensive, verifiable, and global.

We have had very candid conversations with senior Russian officials, and it is my hope that we will continue to engage constructively as we near the end of the current START agreement in February 2021. And, it is important that China be included in any multilateral negotiation.

Q.: Will Washington actively cooperate with Moscow to settle acute regional conflicts, such as the situation in Iran, the North Korean nuclear problem, and the situations in Afghanistan, Libya, and the Middle East?

A.: As I said earlier, we continue to engage here in Moscow, and with regional and international partners on many levels as we look to address these issues, and move towards solutions that bring peace and security.

Q.: The United States recently passed Russia information that allowed Russia to detain extremists and prevent a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg. This is a vivid example of cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of countering international terrorism. Is Washington going to continue such cooperation? Are there fresh examples of times when information from Moscow helped neutralize a terrorist threat against the United States?

A.: The United States takes threats to the lives of Americans, and Russians, very seriously. We will continue to pass information to relevant authorities in the Russian Federation as we aim to protect innocent lives.

While I dont want to get into details on this specific case, our joint work to identify the threat and exchange important information over a period of time was key to neutralizing a threat to Russians and others in Russia. We hope that this can serve as a model for future cooperation, on counterterrorism and other issues.


The En+ Group effectively turned a new page in its corporate history in 2019. Now the group has a unique governance scheme for Russia - without a domineering shareholder and a loyal majority on the board of directors. The board chairman, Lord Gregory Barker, is convinced that the changes adopted in the framework of the plan he devised to get the company removed from the U.S. sanctions list will ultimately do the company and its shareholders good, irrespective of the deal with OFAC. Lord Barker told Interfax in an interview about the work of the new En+ board, dividends and long-term strategy.

Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Russia Laurie Bristow, who is leaving his post, has given an exclusive interview to Interfax in which he speaks about prospects of relations with Russia, arms control, the situation in Syria and surrounding Iran, as well as other topical problems on the international agenda.

Cooperation between OPEC and non-OPEC countries, foremost Russia, has lasted for three years already and in this time the oil market has seen shakeups that have threatened to cause a split within OPEC and jeopardized the fate of the OPEC+ agreement to curb oil production in order to balance the market. OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo spoke with Interfax on the sidelines of the 16th annual meeting of the Valdai Club in Sochi about how decisions are made and OPECs position regarding geopolitical events that have hit oil markets.

U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Huntsman, who will leave his post in early October, has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about exchanges at the highest level between Moscow and Washington, a possibility of Russias return to G8, as well as his vision of the future of U.S.-Russian relations.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about the U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty on that is expected on August 2, about Russia‘s response to the U.S. and NATO possible deployment of missiles banned by the treaty, and about whether the Cuban Missile Crisis may repeat itself.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will hold negotiations on the sidelines of the Petersburg Dialogue forum in Germany on Thursday. Maas has given an interview to Interfax ahead of the forum, in which he speaks about prospects of settling the conflict in Ukraine, Germanys preparations for ensuring security in the absence of the INF Treaty and attempts to save the Iranian nuclear deal.

German Ambassador to Russia Rudiger von Fritsch, who is leaving Moscow after a five-year mission, told Interfax about the state of affairs in bilateral relations, Germanys position on the Nord Stream 2 project amidst sanction risks, and assessed prospects for settling the crisis in Ukraine under the new authorities in Kyiv.


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