US ambassador to Russia John Sullivan is to head back to America this week after a Kremlin official recommended he return home “for thorough, serious consultations,” amid mounting tensions between Washington and Moscow.
The diplomat has been reportedly reluctant to leave the country, with US news outlet Axios saying that he wanted to stay in Moscow, and would not go home unless he was expelled. Now, it appears he has gotten the not so subtle message to leave, and will return to Washington this week.
“I believe it is important for me to speak directly with my new colleagues in the Biden administration in Washington about the current state of bilateral relations between the United States and Russia,” an official statement from the ambassador said. “Also, I have not seen my family in well over a year, and that is another important reason for me to return home for a visit.” The Russians made an offer I couldn’t refuse would have been appropriate for Sullivan to state, but lets go with his version.
He further noted that he would return to Moscow in the coming weeks, before any potential summit between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The suggestion for Sullivan to leave Russia came from Yury Ushakov, an aide of Putin. On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained that Ushakov had “recommended” that the US ambassador “go to his capital city for thorough, serious consultations.”
The Kremlin recalled its own ambassador back to the Russian capital last month, to facilitate discussions with officials. There has been no decision yet on when, or if, he will return to Washington.