US Ambassador to Russia @JonHuntsman Presents His Credentials in Moscow

Posted: 5:02 am ET
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G20 Trump Keywords: Disharmony, Decline, Isolation, Plus Vlad’s CyberSecurity Ha! Ha!

Posted: 3:09 am ET
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AND NOW THIs …

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Russia Responds: -35 Not Cold Enough, Will Not Expel Anyone; Trump Praises Putin’s “Great Move”

Posted: 5:53 pm PT
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Yesterday, the United States¬†PNG’d 35 Russian officials and imposed new sanctions (see¬†USG Declares 35 Russian Officials Persona Non Grata, Imposes New¬†Sanctions). There was also a CNN report that the Anglo American School of Moscow was ordered shut down yesterday. The director of the school released a statement on FB today saying senior Russian officials have refuted the story and that the school is planning to open as scheduled following the holiday break.

Yesterday, MFA Russia said “We will certainly response adequately.”

Today, MFA Russia says “-35 is not cold enough.” ¬†Russia has responded to USG actions by saying that although it has “a right to retaliate” it will not “resort to irresponsible kitchen diplomacy” but¬†will plan “further steps to¬†restore Russian-US relations based on¬†the¬†policies of¬†the¬†Trump Administration.”

It also says it will not expel anyone and invites “all children of¬†US diplomats accredited in¬†Russia to¬†the¬†New Year and¬†Christmas children‚Äôs parties in¬†the¬†Kremlin.”

The Russian Consulate in San Francisco where some of the PNG’d officials are located tweets that “It‚Äôs so difficult to remain diplomatic‚Ķ but we will.” It also released a statement on FB on its “very different, very undiplomatic feelings” saying “We hate to have to say goodbye to close to a dozen of our colleagues, our friends.”

Meanwhile,¬†President-elect Trump has responded to Mr. Putin’s decision not to go with a ‘tit for tat’ response with a tweet praising the Russian leader’s “great move” and¬†melted down Twitter:

The parody accounts, of course, are having a field day today and presumably, the next four years.

Da end.

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Ambassador John Tefft Presents Letter of Credence in Moscow

— Domani Spero
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Russian President Vladimir Putin received the letters of credence from Ambassador Tefft together with  fourteen new ambassadors to Moscow from Djibouti, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Poland, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ghana, Vietnam, Zambia, Turkey, Tanzania, Hungary, Peru, Nicaragua and Uzbekistan.

Mr. Putin also gave a speech during the event and his MFA specifically highlighted the following in the English text of the speech:

We take the view that Russia and the United States of America bear special responsibility for maintaining international security and stability and combating global threats and challenges. We are ready for practical cooperation with our American partners in all different areas, based on the principles of respect for each other’s interests, equality and non-intervention in domestic affairs.

Full speech in English here.

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State Dept’s Selfie Diplomacy: #UnitedForUkraine; Now Waiting For Selfie From the Russian Bear …

— Domani Spero

In the¬†last 48 hours, we’ve been seeing a bunch of selfies from the State Department with the hashtag #UnitedForUkraine. ¬†The NYPost writes:

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was mocked Thursday after posting a photo of herself on Twitter holding a sign that read #United­For­Ukraine @State­Dept­Spox.
[…]
Psaki defended her photo.

‚ÄúThe people of Ukraine are fighting to have their voices heard and the benefit of communicating over social media is it sends a direct message to the people that we are with them, we support their fight, their voice and their future,‚ÄĚ she said.

Now¬†stop picking on Ms. Psaki, she’s not alone on this and at least she’s no longer using the hashtag #RussiaIsolated.¬†The UK¬†is set to start buying gas directly from Russia this fall¬†despite threats ¬†of ¬†further sanctions against Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

In any case, here is the Selfie Collection, a work in progress:

UnitedforUkraine_Psaki

Jen Psaki, State Department Spokesperson

unitedofrukraine_stengel

Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel, and Ms. Psaki’s boss’s boss

Selfie Missing: ¬†Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Douglas Frantz, Ms. Psaki’s boss.

unitedofrukraine_evanryan

Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan

UFU_maconphillips

Coordinator for International Information Programs Macon Phillips

Selfie Missing: Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Alberto Fernandez

Unitedofrukraine_michellekwan

Michelle Kwan, State Department Senior Advisor

UFU_embassykyiv

Embassy Selfie:  Ambassador Pyatt with US Embassy Kyiv staff

 

Then our man in London, Ambassador Matthew Barzun ruined the fun and raised the bar with a Winfield House selfie via Vine:

 

Now we just need a selfie from the Russian bear.

Oops, wait …¬†what’s this? ¬†The Russian bear, missing a hashtag…

 

Google'd Putin riding a bear

 

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Dear Congress: You Are Not Allowed to Make Fun of Secretary Kerry’s Asia Pivot Shirts

— By Domani Spero

The cancellation of President Obama‚Äôs trip to Asia lent to hyperventilating descriptions about the president‚Äôs ‚ÄúAsia Pivot‚ÄĚ — ‚Äúfalters,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúin shambles,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúgoes pffft,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúin jeopardy‚ÄĚ and such.

Well, frankly, not sure where that is going. But we could certainly imagine the political hay that would have been expended over POTUS trip to Asia during a government shutdown.

In any case, Secretary Kerry took the trip instead.

Dear Congress, this is what happened to America in Bali, Indonesia.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poses for a photo before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Official Dinner in Bali, Indonesia, on October 7, 2013. [State Department photo by William Ng/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poses for a photo before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Official Dinner in Bali, Indonesia, on October 7, 2013. [State Department photo by William Ng/ Public Domain]

So you’re not allowed to make fun of that shirt or any other shirts, kapish?

We actually think that purple batik suits him well. ¬†Had they asked him to put on a gray one, he would have worn it too, even if he would have looked wash out in it. ¬†Because he’s our top diplomat. Yes, diplomats are known to wear (and eat) things that their compatriots often find strange or weird. (See¬†Round-Up: Headgears in the Foreign¬†Service).

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, dressed in a traditional batik shirt, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the two join other heads of delegation for a family photo before the APEC Leaders Dinner on October 7, 2013. in Bali, Indonesia. [State Department photo / Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, dressed in a traditional batik shirt, speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin before the two join other heads of delegation for a family photo before the APEC Leaders Dinner on October 7, 2013. in Bali, Indonesia. [State Department photo / Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and fellow foreign ministers, all clad in batik shirts favored in Brunei, enter a gala dinner at the ASEAN ministerial meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan on July 1, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and fellow foreign ministers, all clad in batik shirts favored in Brunei, enter a gala dinner at the ASEAN ministerial meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan on July 1, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poses with other regional heads of state and leaders of delegation before the start of a dinner and cultural program at the ASEAN Summit meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on October 9, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry poses with other regional heads of state and leaders of delegation before the start of a dinner and cultural program at the ASEAN Summit meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, on October 9, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

These are way tamer in comparison to what President Bush had to wear during his tenure.

Unfortunately,¬†Tropical Storm Nari¬†caused the cancellation of Secretary Kerry’s trip to the Philippines, so we are missing Secretary Kerry wearing the country‚Äôs famous Barong Tagalog.

Anyhow, we understand that Australia continues to host annual six-month training deployments of US Marines to its base in the Northern Territory. Australia’s Courier News reports today that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised the necessary infrastructure will be put in place to accommodate the expected presence of a 1000 U.S. Marines set to train there next year. The government is preparing to construct additional accommodations at two bases in Darwin.

So there’s that.

Then we heard that we are¬†helping¬†the Philippines develop¬†Oyster Bay, a postcard-perfect cove on Palawan Island into a port for naval frigates and eventually for American warships? ¬†All, of course, overlooking the disputed South¬†China¬†Sea. ¬†But given all that’s happening in Washington, D.C….

No wonder¬†Chinese President Xi Jinping and¬†Russian President Vladimir Putin¬†celebrated¬†the later’s 61st birthday “quaffing vodka and wolfing down cake”:

“It was 11:00 pm. I offered our Chinese friends to raise a shot of vodka,” Mr Putin said, according to Russian state news agency ITAR-TASS.

“They did not refuse, so we did just that.” As for the cake: “We wolfed it down successfully”. Needless to say, Mr Putin described his meeting with Mr Xi as “very warm” and “friendly”.

We can’t say if Secretary Kerry was in attendance for that “quaffing” and “wolfing” event.

Meanwhile, back in Foggy Bottom: ¬†The East Asia Pacific bureau has six deputy assistant secretaries, twice as many as in 2004, and a deputy¬†assistant secretary-level U.S. senior official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. State/OIG reports that “the¬†bureau needs to streamline front office staffing” — top heavy structure for the second smallest regional bureau in the house needs fixing. ¬†Why? Because as in other bureaus, “the proliferation of DASes has diminished the role of office directors¬†and reduced responsibility at every level.” Also this:

The administration‚Äôs rebalance toward Asia has not been matched by additional financial¬†or human resources. A Congressional Research Service memorandum notes that ‚Äú[new]¬†initiatives have not, however, been accompanied by a significant increase in the State¬†Department or USAID‚Äôs programmatic resources devoted to East Asia.‚ÄĚ Foreign assistance to¬†the region in FY 2013 is 19 percent below the FY 2010 peak. U.S. military resources for the¬†region have increased, but sequestration may impact future plans.

Folks, somewhere, some heads of state are laughing their heads off.

ūüĎÄ

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