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    The Congressman and the Diplomat: Two Men Who Could Be US Ambassador to Russia

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    The American press is continuing to guess who will be appointed the next US Ambassador to Russia, with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and diplomat Thomas Graham considered the two main candidates for the post, according to RIA Novosti political analyst Vladimir Ardayev.

    Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and diplomat Thomas Graham are now considered the two main candidates for the post of US Ambassador to Russia under President Donald Trump according to the US media, RIA Novosti political analyst Vladimir Ardayev said.

    Ardayev notes that both men are prominent experts on Russia, and each of them has his own vision of how to build Washington's relations with Moscow.

    Ardayev referenced to the US political newspaper The Hill, which described Rohrabacher, a 69-year-old member of the House of Representatives, as the most likely candidate for the post.

    US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher
    © AFP 2019 / SAUL LOEB
    US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

    The Hill said that he refused to comment on his possible appointment, which was allegedly discussed between Rohrabacher and the Trump team earlier this month, according to the Washington Post.

    "Right now, speculation is centered on a member of Congress who for three decades has bucked hardline Republican attitudes toward Russia," The Hill said, referring to Rohrabacher.

    He has repeatedly criticized the Magnitsky Act, and supported the results of the referendum on Crimea's reunification with Russia and slammed the anti-Russian sanctions, calling them "the epitome of hypocrisy." In the 1990s, he personally met with Vladimir Putin, Ardayev recalled.

    "Rohrabacher believes that the US and Russia should join efforts to combat common threats, such as international terrorism and a nuclear threat emanating from North Korea. He thinks that the US should not build up its military presence in Europe, because Europe must learn to ensure security all by itself. As for Russia, he feels that it does not pose a real threat to Europe," Ardayev said.

    He quoted Rohrabacher as saying during April's meeting with Valdai Discussion Club experts that "it's necessary for people to understand that Russia is a strong, modern state."

    "When the Russian President is doing something for the benefit of his country, it should be understood to mean that he cares about the interests of his people. I wish we had a President who would take care of our interests as the Russian President does concerning the interests of Russia," Rohrabacher said.

    Another contender for the post of  US Ambassador to Russia is Thomas Graham, who has also called on Washington to cooperate with Moscow in areas of mutual interest.

    Thomas Graham
    Thomas Graham

    Graham is a former special adviser to President George W. Bush. He worked as a foreign service officer at the US Embassy in Moscow and is now managing director of Kissinger Associates.

    Thomas Graham is often called "the greatest realist", something that clearly reflects his position on US-Russian relations, Ardayev said.

    "Unlike Rohrabacher, Graham does not believe that Russia and America will be able to quickly find a common language and clinch close cooperation, but he is convinced that efforts in this direction need to be made, although the fence-mending will be long and difficult," the Russian expert pointed out.

    The main difference between the positions of Rohrabacher and Graham is that the Congressman sees the main area of US-Russian cooperation as the fight against terrorism and threats emanating from hostile regimes, while the diplomat insists that this area should be much wider, focusing on the creation of balance of power in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Ardayev.

    He quoted Dmitry Suslov of the Valdai Discussion Club as saying that "while Dana Rohrabacher is mainly a politician and Thomas Graham is an expert, both of them remain realists who deny  [ideology-driven] foreign policy."

    "Suslov feels that it is Rohrabacher who should be appointed the new US Ambassador to Russia, while Graham could become a presidential advisor on Russia or Senior Director on Russia at the National Security Council," Vardayev said.

    At the same time, he added, Suslov underscored that he considered both men "quite worthy candidates for the post of US Ambassador to Moscow."

    He was echoed by Fyodor Lukyanov, chief editor of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs, who called Rohrabacher the most probable candidate for the post.

    "His appointment, if it ever happens, will no doubt be a politically motivated move," Lukyanov underscored.

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