On Russia’s Diplomats’ Day, Moscow Kicks Out US Embassy DCM

 

US Embassy Moscow’s Deputy Chief of Mission Bart Gorman and his family departed Moscow on February 10 after being declared persona non grata by the Russian Federation, this blog has learned.
The US Embassy in Moscow did not respond to our inquiry.
Mr. Gorman was Chargé d’affaires at US Mission  Russia after the departure of Ambassador Jon M. Huntsman Jr. who served in Moscow from October 2, 2017–October 3, 2019. Ambassador John J. Sullivan (1959–) assumed charge of the mission in January 2020 and Mr. Gorman continued as his deputy. Below is Mr. Gorman’s bio via Embassy Moscow:

Bart Gorman is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Gorman is responsible for managing key aspects of the U.S. – Russia relationship.

From 2017-2019, Mr. Gorman served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Assistant Director for Threat Investigations and Analysis (TIA), Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State. In this capacity, he oversaw all Diplomatic Security programs that analyze, assess, investigate, and disseminate information on threats directed against U.S. diplomatic personnel overseas and domestically.

Previously, Mr. Gorman worked as the Director of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Intelligence and Threat Analysis (DS/ITA), where he led a cadre of analysts and support staff responsible for enhancing the safety and security of U.S. diplomatic facilities, personnel, and other key constituencies by monitoring, analyzing, and providing warnings about threats impacting U.S. interests worldwide.

Mr. Gorman has also served as the Senior Regional Security Officer (RSO) in Moscow, Russia (2014-2016); the Senior Deputy RSO in Baghdad, Iraq (2013-2014); the RSO in Amman, Jordan (2010-2013); the Deputy RSO in Beijing, China; a threat analyst in DS/ITA (2004-2006); the RSO in Almaty, Kazakhstan (2002-2004); the RSO in Yerevan, Armenia (2001-2002); and an Assistant RSO in Moscow, Russia (1999-2001). His first assignment as a special agent was in the New York Field Office (1999).

Mr. Gorman holds a Ph.D. and MA in Slavic Literatures and Languages from the University of Southern California, and a BA from Colgate University. He also holds an MS in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University.

Mr. Gorman is married to Donna Gorman and they have four children, ages 19, 16, 13, and 11.

 

###

@StateDept Appoints Career Diplomat Matt Murray as U.S. Senior Official For APEC

 

Via state.gov:

The Department of State is pleased to announce that Matt Murray will be the new U.S. Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Senior Official Murray brings a wealth of experience to this position as a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. Throughout his 23 years in the Foreign Service, he has served primarily in economic policy roles both in Washington and at diplomatic posts in the Asia-Pacific region.

Senior Official Murray most recently led the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs as Senior Bureau Official following an assignment as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Trade Policy and Negotiations.  His service in the Asia-Pacific region includes leadership roles both as Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra.  He also directly supported U.S. engagement in APEC while working in the Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment during the U.S. host year in 2011.

The United States fully supports APEC’s mission to advance a free, fair, and open economic policy agenda that benefits U.S. workers, businesses, and families.  The 21 APEC member economies account for approximately 47 percent of global trade, and the region is the destination for more than 62 percent of U.S. goods exports.  Through engagement at APEC, the United States supports U.S. innovation and the digital economy; helps U.S. companies do business and support jobs and families here at home; expands women’s participation in the economy; and promotes healthy, resilient, and sustainable economies.  APEC is a forum for the United States to help the region’s economies recover from the pandemic, enhance climate action, and support economic prosperity for our workers and all our people.

***

###

@StateDept Press Briefing: Oh dear, that verbal tussle should make you cranky, too!

 

We understand that the job of the spokesperson is not an easy one. But after four years of constant lies from numerous government podiums, this Administration should know better than to give the public this kind of allegations from the official podium while refusing to provide evidence other than we told you so.
About 2,000 U.S. troops were reportedly heading to Poland and Germany; about a thousand troops in Germany are going to Romania.
The February 3 briefing is hard to watch and it makes us very cranky. We’ve summarize the briefing very simply as follows:
Spox: Declassified intel indicates there’s a rat.
Reporter: Where’s the rat?
Spox: I just said, there’s one.
Reporter: Where’s your proof?
Spox: I just said it.
Reporter: Yes you did but what’s your evidence that there’s a rat?
Spox: Cant’ say. We’re protecting sources and methods.
Reporter: Well, that’s not good enough!
Spox: We know there’s a rat. I’m sharing that information so you can set traps and save yourselves. Just say thank you.
Reporter: I need evidence about this crisis actor rat. Is the cheese gone? Something for goodness’ sake!
Spox: Listen!  There’s a rat! Why are you questioning our intel?
Reporter: “I told you so” isn’t evidence!  What if it turns out to be a WMD rat?
Spox: Why can’t you use your damn imagination?
Reporter: Last time we had a “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud” imagination, we started the long war and tons of people’s dreams died with them.
There. See? Now you and I both are properly cranky!
Stop pulling your hair or you’ll grow bald! Now watch the clip below or read the transcript under a brown paper bag.

MR PRICE: Good afternoon. We have previously noted our strong concerns regarding Russian disinformation and the likelihood that Moscow might create – seek to create a false flag operation to initiate military activity. Now, we can say that the United States has information that Russia is planning to stage fabricated attacks by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces as a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.

One possible option the Russians are considering, and which we made public today, involves the production of a propaganda video – a video with graphic scenes of false explosions – depicting corpses, crisis actors pretending to be mourners, and images of destroyed locations or military equipment – entirely fabricated by Russian intelligence.

To be clear, the production of this propaganda video is one of a number of options that the Russian Government is developing as a fake pretext to initiate and potentially justify military aggression against Ukraine. We don’t know if Russia will necessarily use this or another option in the coming days. We are publicizing it now, however, in order to lay bare the extent of Russia’s destabilizing actions towards Ukraine and to dissuade Russia from continuing this dangerous campaign and ultimately launching a military attack.

Russia has signaled it’s willing to continue diplomatic talks as a means to de-escalate, but actions such as these suggest otherwise. We will continue to diligently work together with our allies and partners to expose Russian disinformation and other hybrid tactics used against Ukraine. We continue to work to prevent any effort Moscow might make to justify further military action in Ukraine. We again urge Russia to stop its destructive and destabilizing disinformation campaign, to de-escalate tensions, and to engage in diplomacy and dialogue for a peaceful solution.

[…]

MR PRICE: We told you a few weeks ago that we have information indicating Russia also has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine. So that, Matt, to your question, is an action that Russia has already taken.

QUESTION: No, it’s an action that you say that they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. And I’m going to get to the next question here, which is: What is the evidence that they – I mean, this is – like, crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now. What evidence do you have to support the idea that there is some propaganda film in the making?

MR PRICE: Matt, this is derived from information known to the U.S. Government, intelligence information that we have declassified. I think you know —

QUESTION: Okay, well, where is it? Where is this information?

MR PRICE: It is intelligence information that we have declassified.

QUESTION: Well, where is it? Where is the declassified information?

MR PRICE: I just delivered it.

QUESTION: No, you made a series of allegations and statements —

MR PRICE: Would you like us to print out the topper? Because you will see a transcript of this briefing that you can print out for yourself.

QUESTION: But that’s not evidence, Ned. That’s you saying it. That’s not evidence. I’m sorry.

MR PRICE: What would you like, Matt?

QUESTION: I would like to see some proof that you – that you can show that —

MR PRICE: Matt, you have been —

QUESTION: — that shows that the Russians are doing this.

MR PRICE: You —

QUESTION: Ned, I’ve been doing this for a long time, as you know.

MR PRICE: I know. That was my point. You have been doing this for quite a while.

QUESTION: I have.

MR PRICE: You know that when we declassify intelligence, we do so in a means —

QUESTION: That’s right. And I remember WMDs in Iraq, and I —

MR PRICE: — we do so with an eye to protecting sources and methods.

QUESTION: And I remember that Kabul was not going to fall. I remember a lot of things. So where is the declassified information other than you coming out here and saying it?

MR PRICE: Matt, I’m sorry you don’t like the format, but we have —

QUESTION: It’s not the format. It’s the content.

MR PRICE: I’m sorry you don’t like the content. I’m sorry you —

QUESTION: It’s not that I don’t like it or —

MR PRICE: I’m sorry you are doubting the information that is in the possession of the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: No, I —

MR PRICE: What I’m telling you is that this is information that’s available to us. We are making it available to you in order – for a couple reasons. One is to attempt to deter the Russians from going ahead with this activity. Two, in the event we’re not able to do that, in the event the Russians do go ahead with this, to make it clear as day, to lay bare the fact that this has always been an attempt on the part of the Russian Federation to fabricate a pretext.

QUESTION: Yes, but you don’t have any evidence to back it up other than what you’re saying. It’s like you’re saying, “We think – we have information the Russians may do this,” but you won’t tell us what the information is. And then when you’re asked —

MR PRICE: Well, that is the idea behind deterrence, Matt. That is the idea behind deterrence.

QUESTION: When you’re asked – and when you’re asked —

MR PRICE: It is our hope that the Russians don’t go forward with this.

QUESTION: And when you’re asked what the information is, you say, “I just gave it to you.” But that’s not what —

MR PRICE: You seem not to understand —

QUESTION: That’s not the way it works.

MR PRICE: You seem not to understand the idea of deterrence.

QUESTION: No, no, no, Ned. You don’t – you seem not to understand the idea of —

MR PRICE: We are trying to deter the Russians from moving forward with this type of activity. That is why we are making it public today. If the Russians don’t go forward with this, that is not ipso facto an indication that they never had plans to do so.

QUESTION: But then it’s unprovable. I mean, my God, what is the evidence that you have that suggests that the Russians are even planning this?

MR PRICE: Matt, you —

QUESTION: I mean, I’m not saying that they’re not. But you just come out and say this and expect us just to believe it without you showing a shred of evidence that it’s actually true – other than when I ask or when anyone else asks what’s the information, you said, well, I just gave it to you, which was just you making a statement.

MR PRICE: Matt, you said yourself you’ve been in this business for quite a long time. You know that when we make information – intelligence information public we do so in a way that protects sensitive sources and methods. You also know that we do so – we declassify information – only when we’re confident in that information.

QUESTION: But Ned, you haven’t given any information.

MR PRICE: If you doubt – if you doubt the credibility of the U.S. Government, of the British Government, of other governments, and want to find solace in information that the Russians are putting out —

QUESTION: Solace?

MR PRICE: — that is for you to do.

QUESTION: I don’t want – I’m not asking what the Russian Government is putting out. And what do you – what is that supposed to mean?

MR PRICE: Shaun.

QUESTION: Does the government have the video? Because U.S. officials are describing very specific scenes, but do they actually have a video?

MR PRICE: The fact that we are able to go into such great detail – obviously, I am not going to spell out what is in our possession, but I will leave – I will leave it to you – I will leave that to your judgment, to your imagination.

QUESTION: Ned, there are no facts that you’ve spelled out.

QUESTION: Whether they use it “in the coming days” – do you have evidence this was intended to come out in the coming days?

MR PRICE: We’ve said, Ben, for some time now that the Russians have positioned forces, they have undertaken preparations, that if Putin decides to move forward with an invasion they’re positioned to do so. They are poised to do so.

###

Amnesty Report Ruins Ambassador Nides Butterfly Moment

 

 

US Embassy Minsk Now on Ordered Departure For USG Family Members

 

On January 31, the State Department issued a Level 4-Do Not Travel advisory for Belarus. It also announced the “ordered departure” of family members of USG employees from Belarus. Ordered departure is a mandatory evacuation order. Excerpt below:

Do not Travel to Belarus due to the arbitrary enforcement of laws, the risk of detention, and unusual and concerning Russian military buildup along Belarus’ border with Ukraine. Reconsider travel due to COVID-19 and related entry restrictions.

On January 31, 2022, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members of U.S. government employees.

Due to an increase in unusual and concerning Russian military activity near the border with Ukraine, U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to Belarus should be aware that the situation is unpredictable and there is heightened tension in the region. On January 23, 2022, the Department of State also authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. direct hire employees (USDH) and ordered the departure of eligible family members (EFM) from Embassy Kyiv due to the continued threat of Russian military action. Potential harassment targeted specifically at foreigners is also possible.  Given the heightened volatility of the situation, U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling to Belarus.

The U.S. government’s ability to provide routine or emergency services to U.S. citizens in Belarus is already severely limited  due to Belarusian government limitations on U.S. Embassy staffing.

Read the full announcement here.
In June 2021, the Belarus Foreign Ministry summoned the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy in Minsk and informed him of retaliatory measures against the United States. The measures included the reduction of the diplomatic and administrative-technical personnel of the American diplomatic mission, the tightening of visa procedures, the limitation of the work of American specialists in Belarus on a temporary basis. The government also revoked the work permit for USAID.
In 2008, the Belarusian Government imposed restrictions on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in Minsk, and the State Department was forced to reduce its embassy staff from 35 to five diplomats as well as withdraw the U.S. Ambassador. The number of U.S. diplomats was later increased to six in July 2014. The current CDA Ruben Harutunian assumed his duties as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Minsk on May 24, 2021.
In April 2020, with improved relations with the dictator in Belarus, the Trump Administration announced the nomination of  career diplomat Julie Fisher as the first U.S. Ambassador to Minsk since 2008. She was confirmed in December 2020.  It April 2021, Ambassador Fischer was reported to temporarily reside in Lithuania as she was not granted a visa to travel to Minsk. Her official bio at US Embassy Minsk says she was refused a visa by the Belarus authorities, and she relocated to Lithuania in October 2021. She currently holds the title of U.S. Special Envoy for Belarus, a position with ambassadorial rank.

Related posts:

US Amb. to Ethiopia Geeta Pasi to Retire, Amb. Tracey Ann Jacobson to be CDA

 

The State Department just announced that the US Ambassador to Ethiopia Geeta Pasi “plans to retire to pursue other opportunities.” Foggy Bottom has appointed Ambassador Tracey Ann Jacobson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ambassador Pasi was nominated ambassador in June 2020. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 22, 2020.
The official statement says “The Department of State expresses its great appreciation to Ambassador Pasi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, for her distinguished public service in advancing the values and interests of the United States around the globe, a career marked by three ambassadorial assignments and senior State Department leadership positions in Washington, D.C. We are particularly grateful for her stewardship of Embassy Addis Ababa during an exceptionally complex period.”
Ambassador Jacobson retired from the State Department in 2017. She was most recently appointed as Afghanistan Task Force Director in July 2021 during the Department’s Operation Allies Refuge.

 

Related posts:

New US Ambassador to Guinea Troy Fitrell Presents Credentials to Transition President in Conakry

 

 

Related posts:

A New Trend? Posts’ Requests to @StateDept For Authorized Departures Go Public

 

 

In a span of a couple of weeks, we’ve seen two reports of diplomatic posts requesting the State Department to go on evacuation status leaked to the press. This has occasionally happened in the past, of course, but only in isolated cases.  The most notable happened at some posts in one region in March 2020 where the missions’ Emergency Action Committees (EAC) recommended an “ordered departure” for their posts and a top bureau official reportedly talked the ambassadors out of requesting it.
Were these requests from Kyiv and Beijing leaked because the EACs/ACOMs were dissuaded from making formal requests in the first place, which then avoided a formal response from the bureaus/DOS, or were these leaked to ensure that the requests are now public record, ramping up the pressure on State to agree to the requests? The EACs typically make recommendations in these cases and the departures are then requested by the chief of mission (COM). Final approval is by the Under Secretary for Management (M).
In the case of US Embassy Kyiv, the request made the news on January 21, and the State Department made it official on January 23. In Mission China’s case, the request made the news on January 26. As of this writing, the China travel advisory remains at Level 3, and no authorized departure has been announced as of this writing. The new US Ambassador to China was sworn-in on January 27.

Related posts:

Is @StateDept Actively Discouraging US Embassies From Requesting Mandatory Evacuations For Staff? #CentralAsia? #Worldwide?March 23, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Howler: “No one in DC, to include S, gives AF about AF” March 20, 2020

US Embassy Abu Dhabi on Level 4/Do Not Travel Advisory Due to Threat of Missile/Drone Attacks

 

On January 24, 2022, the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi issued a security alert regarding the January 17 attack:

There have been reports of a possible missile attack and accompanying missile defense activity over Abu Dhabi early this morning. The Embassy reminds all U.S. citizens in the United Arab Emirates to maintain a high level of security awareness. The Houthi militia in Yemen has claimed responsibility for the January 17 attack on Abu Dhabi and stated an intent to attack neighboring countries, including the UAE, using missiles and unmanned aerial systems (drones).

On January 26, the State Department issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory for the United Arab Emirates  due to COVID-19 and for US citizens to reconsider travel “due to the threat of missile or drone attacks.”

US Embassy Minsk Issues Security Alert in Belarus

 

On January 23, the U.S. Embassy in Minsk issued a Security Alert reminding U.S. citizens to exercise increased awareness and vigilance regarding political and military tensions in the region.   The alert notes of concerning reports of further unusual Russian military activity near Ukraine’s borders, including the border with Belarus.  U.S. citizens are advised to avoid public demonstrations and to regularly reevaluate possible departure plans in the event of an emergency. Read in full below:

####