08:37 GMT25 January 2021
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    Recent talks in Washington between the US and Ukrainian Presidents came amid the final steps in setting up the US State Department under Donald Trump. The updated department included advisors who do not share Trump's pre-election sentiments and their arrival indicates that the White House may change its policy, and not only with respect to Kiev.

    US President Donald Trump sat down with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Washington earlier this week, indicating that the new US Administration is again dealing with Ukraine despite almost half a year of attempts to distance itself from the issue.

    This can be explained by the final reshuffle of the US State Department, which included advisors who do not share Donald Trump's pre-election stance, RT reported.

    Experienced Kremlinologists

    In March, the White House announced that Fiona Hill would become Senior Director for Europe and Russia. According to the US magazine Foreign Policy, Hill is a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, a think tank with a liberal bias.

    From 2006 to 2009, she worked at the National Intelligence Council, where she prepared analytical materials for almost all American special services.In addition to a PhD in History, Hill has a Masters in Soviet Studies from Harvard and is considered an expert Kremlinologist; however particularly fond of Moscow, RT said.

    She is the author of a book titled "Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin," in which she criticized the Russian leader, according to RT, which also noted another controversial book she wrote on Russia which was slammed by critics.

    "The tone of this book is insultingly lenient, the methodology is wrong, and the main message to the Russian government looks like a brutal social engineer," according to one of the critics.

    Another problematic State Department nomination related to Russia may Wess Mitchell, who could become Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian. The post was previously occupied by Victoria Nuland, one of the co-engineers of the February 2014 Ukrainian coup who helped appoint the country's replacement leaders.

    Mitchell is linked with the John Hay Initiative, a neoconservative-leaning policy think tank, where Republican candidates obtained advice on foreign policy issues.

    In his articles "Predators on the Border" and "Strategy on Protecting NATO Borders," Mitchell convinces Americans that it is Russia that remains the main external enemy of the United States.

    He insists Washington should more actively sponsor nationalist and paramilitary movements in the Baltic States, Poland and Finland in order to prevent the sudden appearance of so-called "green men" there.

    'Moles' and Globalists

    The emergence in the US Administration of Hill and Mitchell was immediately criticized by those in Trump's team who call for the normalization of relations with Russia.

    For example, long-time colleague and informal Trump adviser Roger Stone publicly slammed Hill as a "mole" and a "globalist."

    Journalist Alex Jones' Infowars website acted as the mouthpiece of the alternative right-wing of the Trump Administration, claiming Hill is allegedly "known for supporting Soros's efforts to fill Europe with Muslim refugees from the Middle East."

    Despite controversial appointments, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is continuing to attempt to repair relations with Moscow, which, he said "may be at all-time low."

    On Tuesday, the State Department announced that US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon will discuss a range of bilateral issues on Friday with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov during his visit to Russia.

    On Wednesday, however, Moscow said that it had canceled the Ryabkov-Shannon consultations scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg on June 23 after the United States expanded anti-Russian sanctions on Tuesday.

    "After yesterday's decision on sanctions, the situation is irrelevant for holding another round of such a dialogue, especially because there is no content for it given Washington's reluctance to offer anything concrete in this area," Ryabkov said.

    He noted that the US never returned "Russian diplomatic property expropriated in December of last year."

    The State Department emphasized in a statement that Washington was disappointed over the action taken by Moscow, and noted the United States remained open to future discussions with the Russian government.

    On June 20, the US Department of the Treasury introduced sanctions against 38 individuals and entities over their alleged involvement in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

    Russia has consistently denied the allegations of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs and pointed out that the policy of sanctions is counterproductive and can destabilize the international situation.

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    stance, policy, efforts, message, border, State Department, Wess Mitchell, Fiona Hill, Donald Trump, US
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