Russia’s ambassador finishes assignment in U.S.

July 23 (UPI) — Sergey Kislyak, who has been linked to possible meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has finished his tenure as Russia’s ambassador to the United States, the Russian embassy announced.

“Ambassador S. Kislyak has concluded his assignment in Washington, D.C. Minister-Counselor D.Gonchar will act as ChargĂ© d’Affaires ad interim,” the embassy posted Saturday on Twitter.

On Jun 26, the nation’s Foreign Ministry said Kislyak was departing as ambassador as part of a regular rotation “all planned in advance.”

Kislyak’s replacement in Washington will be Anatoly Antonov, Russian state media said at the time. Antonov is currently the deputy foreign minister and previously served as deputy minister of defense.

Kislyak met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on May 10 with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. During that meeting, Trump shared classified intelligence information with the Russians and called fired FBI Director James Comey a “nut job.”

Also, Kislyak met with several members of Trump’s campaign.

National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was fired on Feb. 13 — 24 days after Trump took office — for failing to disclose the nature of a meeting with Kislyak before Trump’s inauguration.

The ambassador also met with then-Sen. Jeff Sessions. In Senate confirmation hearings to become attorney general, Sessions failed to disclose those meetings. Later, Sessions recused himself from Russian investigation matters, but has said, including in testimony in Congress, he met with Kislyak in his capacity as a senator from Alabama and did not discuss campaign or policy issues.

On Friday, the Washington Post reported that intelligence intercepts suggest that Sessions may have discussed campaign matters with Kislyak during their meetings. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement that the attorney general “stands by his testimony from just last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee.”

Senior adviser Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Trump, also met with Kislyak last year and did not disclose it to congressional and federal officials.

He became the U.S. ambassador shortly before Barack Obama became president. Kislyak, who was trained as an engineer, joined the Foreign Ministry in 1977. Between 1985 and 1989, he was an envoy to the United States, specializing in arms control. Then, he served similtaneously as Russia’s ambassador to Belgium and NATO, and later was a deputy foreign minister.

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