@StateDept Recalls Amb. Marie Yovanovitch From Ukraine After Persistent Campaign For Removal

 

The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich has reportedly been recalled and now expected to depart post on or about May 20. This development followed a persistent campaign for her removal among conservative media outlets in the United States as well as allegations by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Lutsenko concerning a do not prosecute list.

The State Department reportedly told RFE/RL  on May 6,  that Ambassador Yovanovitch “is concluding her 3-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv in 2019 as planned.” And that “her confirmed departure date in May aligns with the presidential transition in Ukraine,” which elected a new president in April.

While that may well be true – she was confirmed in 2016, a 3-year tour is a typical assignment; the new Ukraine president takes office on June 3rd — it is hard to ignore the louder voices calling for the ambassador’s removal from post for political reasons. It doesn’t help that there is no Senate confirmed EUR Assistant Secretary or that the Secretary of State did not see it fit to come forward to defend his top representative in a priority country in Europe.

Ambassador Yovanovich is a career diplomat and a Senate-confirmed Ambassador representing the United States in Ukraine. She previously served as Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia (2008-2011) under President Obama and to the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008) under President George W. Bush. We’ve seen people calling career diplomats “holdovers”. If they were political appointees, they would be called “holdovers” or “burrowers,” but they are career public servants; that term does not apply to them. If some folks insists on calling them “holdovers,” then the least that these folks can do is to accurately enumerate all the public servants’ prior presidential appointments, some going back 30 years at the start of their careers in the diplomatic service.

Perhaps it is helpful to point out that as career appointees, ambassadors like Ambassador Yovanovich do not go freelancing nor do they go rogue; they do not make their own policy concerning their host country.  They typically get their marching orders from their home bureau, in this case, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) at the State Department, under the oversight of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, who report to the Secretary of State.  And they follow those orders.  Even if they disagree with those orders or the administration’s policies. Career diplomats who do not follow their instructions do not have lengthy careers in the diplomatic service.

After all that, if the United States is taking the word of a foreign official over our own ambassador, it’s open season for our career diplomats. Will the “you want a U.S. ambassador kicked out from a specific country go on teevee ” removal campaign going to become a thing now? Will the Secretary of Swagger steps up?

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27 Hours Later, Pompeo Says “The United States Condemns This Aggressive Russian Action” #Ukraine

A follow-up to Russia-Ukraine Tensions Escalate in Sea of Azov, U.S. Issues Forceful Response: ZZZzzz, late November 26, the State Department finally released a statement from Secretary Pompeo condemning the “aggressive Russian action” in the Kerch Strait. Earlier, he had an opportunity to address the incident during his joint press appearance with Kosovo’s president but declined to do so.

Russia-Ukraine Tensions Escalate in Azov Sea, U.S. Issues Forceful Response: ZZZzzz

 

Still nothing from the State Department, Secretary Pompeo or US Embassy Ukraine  as of this writing, but the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine did tweet a comment with three question marks. Note that the tweet isn’t ALL CAPS.

Also here’s the chief diplomat of the United States tweeting about military protection pay but no tweets, ALL CAPS or otherwise about the incident that Ukrainian Navy said has wounded six Ukrainian servicemen when Russian forces shot at and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the coast of Crimea.

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ExxonMobil “demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions” – @StateDept says go over there for QQQs!

Posted: 12:42 am ET
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The State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert did one of her twice a week Daily Press Briefing at the State Department and was asked about the Treasury Department’s Exxon fine for violating the Russian sanctions when Secretary Tillerson was the CEO. A quick note here.  We realized that they’ve changed the name of this briefing into “Department Press Briefing” but as a daily reminder that the Bureau of Public Affairs is now unable to handle the daily demands of briefing the press, we will continue calling this the State Department’s Daily Press Briefing.

Below are excerpts from the DPB:

MS NAUERT: The Secretary – we’re not going to have any comments today for you on some of the alleged facts or the facts underlying the enforcement action. Treasury is going to have to answer a lot of these questions for you. I’m not going to have a lot for you on this today. The Treasury Department was involved in this. They were the ones who spearheaded this. And so for a lot of your questions, I’m going to have to refer you to Treasury.

MS NAUERT: Yes. I’m not going to comment on that at this time. The Secretary recused himself from his dealings with ExxonMobil at the time that he became Secretary of State. This all predates his time here at the Department of State, and so —

MS NAUERT: I think I will say this: The Secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related activities. The action was taken by the Department of State – excuse me, the Department of the Treasury, and State was not involved in this.

QUESTION: And does – can you tell us if the Secretary believes in the objectives of the Ukraine-related sanctions programs?

MS NAUERT: I know that we have remained very concerned about maintaining sanctions. That will continue. We’ve been clear that sanctions will continue until Russia does what Russia needs to do.

QUESTION: For the record, will he come down and talk with us —

MS NAUERT: Well, I’m sorry, who —

QUESTION: — talk about this? Just for the record, will he come down and talk about this to us himself?

MS NAUERT: Well, I’m here to speak on his behalf and on behalf of the building. There’s not a whole lot that we can say about this right now. Again, you can talk to Treasury or to Exxon about this. Okay.

MS NAUERT: The Secretary has been – not to my knowledge. I can tell you this, that he has been extremely clear in his recusal of anything having to do with Exxon. When this information come to us here at the State Department, it did not come to the Secretary himself. It came to the Deputy Secretary John Sullivan. The Secretary has taken this very seriously, that Exxon-related activities are not something that he is involved with here as Secretary of State.

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In assessing the maximum monetary penalty, Treasury/OFAC outlined the following as aggravating factors (via):

(1) ExxonMobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements when it failed to consider warning signs associated with dealing in the blocked services of an SDN; (note: Specially Designated Nationals)

(2) ExxonMobil’s senior-most executives knew of Sechin’s status as an SDN when they dealt in the blocked services of Sechin;

(3) ExxonMobil caused significant harm to the Ukraine-related sanctions program objectives by engaging the services of an SDN designated on the basis that he is an official of the Government ofthe Russian Federation contributing to the crisis in Ukraine; and

(4) ExxonMobil is a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company that has global operations and routinely deals in goods, services, and technology subject to U.S economic sanctions and U.S. export controls.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers remarks at the 22nd World Petroleum Congress opening ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 9, 2017. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

 

AND NOW THIS — the State Department’s “employee-led redesign initiative” with no “predetermined outcomes” is a runner up for “Best in Show.”

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Tillerson Appoints Ex-USNATO Ambassador Kurt Volker as Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations

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Posted: 12:49 am ET
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On July 7, the State Department announced Secretary Tillerson’s appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Ambassador Volker served at USNATO from July 2, 2008 to May 15, 2009.  He was reported in spring as in the running for the position of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR). This is Secretary Tillerson’s first special rep appointee.

Below is the released statement:

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson announced today his appointment of Ambassador Kurt Volker to serve as the United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Ambassador Volker, who has served previously as the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and as Director for NATO and Western Europe on the National Security Council, will take responsibility for advancing U.S. efforts to achieve the objectives set out in the Minsk agreements. He will accompany the Secretary to Kyiv on Sunday, July 9, and is expected to continue to hold regular meetings with Ukraine and the other members of the Normandy Format: Russia, Germany, and France.

“Kurt’s wealth of experience makes him uniquely qualified to move this conflict in the direction of peace,” said Secretary Tillerson. “The United States remains fully committed to the objectives of the Minsk agreements, and I have complete confidence in Kurt to continue our efforts to achieve peace in Ukraine.”

Clips:

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U.S. Embassy Ukraine Confirms Security Incident at Mission Compound on June 8

Posted: 1:49 am ET
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Shortly after 12 AM on June 8, an unknown person reportedly threw an explosive device at the US Embassy in Kyiv.  This was originally reported as an act of terrorism, but local authorities later reclassified the incident as an act of malicious hooliganism.” The US Embassy in Kyiv confirmed the security incident but noting that there was no damage to the property and no personnel were injured.

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US Embassy Kyiv: Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Presents Her Credentials in Ukraine

Posted: 1:22 am ET
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Senate Confirmations: Hall, Silverman, Perez, Pyatt, Silliman, Yovanovitch

Posted: 1:57 am ET
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On July 14, the U.S. Senate confirmed the following executive nominations

2016-07-14 PN1264 Lithuania Anne Hall, of Maine, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Lithuania.

2016-07-14 PN1374 Kuwait | Lawrence Robert Silverman, of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait.

2016-07-14 PN1423 Chile | Carol Z. Perez, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Chile.

2016-07-14 PN1491 Greece | Geoffrey R. Pyatt, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Greece.

2016-07-14 PN1492 Iraq | Douglas Alan Silliman, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq.

2016-07-14 PN1493 Ukraine | Marie L. Yovanovitch, of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Ukraine.

The following nominees remain pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar:

STATE DEPARTMENT

Amos J. Hochstein, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Energy Resources), vice John Stern Wolf.  Mar 10, 2016 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Peter Michael McKinley, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federative Republic of Brazil.  Jul 14, 2016 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

OVERSEAS PRIVATE INVESTMENT CORPORATION

Nelson Reyneri, of Washington, to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for a term expiring December 17, 2018, vice Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy, term expired.  Jun 23, 2016 Placed on the Calendar pursuant to S.Res. 116, 112th Congress.

UNITED STATES ADVISORY COMMISSION ON PUBLIC DIPLOMACY

Douglas Barry Wilson, of Delaware, to be a Member of the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy for a term expiring July 1, 2017, vice Elizabeth F. Bagley, term expired. Jun 10, 2016 Placed on the Calendar pursuant to S.Res. 116, 112th Congress.

EUROPEAN BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Catherine Ann Novelli, of Virginia, to be United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vice Robert D. Hormats, resigned.  Mar 10, 2016 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND

Janet L. Yellen, of California, to be United States Alternate Governor of the International Monetary Fund for a term of five years, vice Ben S. Bernanke, term expired.  Jun 25, 2015 Reported by Mr. Corker, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

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Ambassador Nomination: Geoffrey R. Pyatt — From Ukraine to Greece

Posted: 12:05 am ET
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On May 18, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Geoffrey R. Pyatt, to be Ambassador to Greece. The WH released the following brief bio:

Geoffrey R. Pyatt, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, a position he has held since 2013.  Previously, Ambassador Pyatt was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs from 2010 to 2013.  He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to the International Organizations in Vienna, Austria from 2007 to 2010.  He also served at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India as Deputy Chief of Mission from 2006 to 2007 and as Political Counselor from 2002 to 2006.  Ambassador Pyatt served as Economic Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong from 1999 to 2002 and as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan from 1997 to 1999.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1989, he has also served on the National Security Council staff and at posts in Honduras and India.

Ambassador Pyatt received a B.A. from the University of California, Irvine and an M.A. from Yale University.

Ambassador Pyatt at “Demo Day” at the 1991 Open Data Incubator, April 8, 2016. Via US Embassy Kyiv/FB

Ambassador Pyatt at “Demo Day” at the 1991 Open Data Incubator, April 8, 2016. Via US Embassy Kyiv/FB

His state.gov bio includes the following details:

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked with The Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank that brings together leading citizens of the Americas.

Ambassador Pyatt grew up in La Jolla, California and holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Yale and B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine.

If confirmed, Ambassador Pyatt would succeed career diplomat, Ambassador David D. Pearce who was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Athens in August 1, 2013.

 

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Ambassador Nomination: Marie L. Yovanovitch — From State/FSI to Ukraine

Posted: 12:03 am ET
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On May 18, President Obama announced his  intent to nominate Marie L. Yovanovitch to be the next Ambassador to Ukraine. The WH released the following brief bio:

Marie L. Yovanovitch, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Dean of the School of Language Studies at the Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, a position she has held since 2014.  Ms. Yovanovitch was Deputy Commandant at the Eisenhower School at the National Defense University from 2013 to 2014.  She served in the Department of State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2012 to 2013 and as Deputy Assistant Secretary from 2011 to 2012.  Prior to that, she served as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia from 2008 to 2011 and as U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2005 to 2008.  Ms. Yovanovitch was Senior Advisor and Executive Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs from 2004 to 2005 and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine from 2001 to 2004.  Since joining the Foreign Service in 1986, she has also served at posts in Canada, Russia, Somalia, and the United Kingdom.

Ms. Yovanovitch received a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.S. from the National War College.

The State Department’s bio includes the following details:

A Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Yovanovitch has been granted both the Senior Foreign Service Performance Award and the State Department’s Superior Honor Award on five occasions. She is also the recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Diplomacy in Human Rights Award.

Ms. Yovanovitch is a graduate of Princeton University where she earned a BA in History and Russian Studies. She studied at the Pushkin Institute and received an MS from the National Defense University. Ms. Yovanovitch speaks Russian.

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Via US Embassy Yerevan

If confirmed, Ambassador Yovanovitch would succeed career diplomat, Geoffrey R. Pyattwho was appointed chief of mission to the US Embassy in Kyiv in August 2013.  Ambassador  Pyatt has been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Greece.

 

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