Biden Formally Nominates New Ambassador to Russia

She is likely to play a central role in negotiations to bring home two Americans the U.S. says Russia is detaining unjustly.

U.S. State Department via AP
Ambassador Lynne Tracy. in an undated photo. U.S. State Department via AP

President Biden on Tuesday formally nominated a veteran foreign service officer with years of experience in Russian affairs to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia. 

The White House announced the nomination of Lynne Tracy, the current U.S. ambassador to Armenia, to the post after the Russian government signed off on the choice. Ms. Tracy’s selection had been known for some time but had not been announced pending Russia’s approval. Ambassadorial nominations must be approved by the host government under the rules of diplomatic protocol.

Such approval is generally routine but couldn’t be taken for granted at a time of particularly fraught U.S.-Russian relations over Ukraine, the detention of Americans in Russia, allegations of Russian meddling in U.S. and other elections, and an escalating spat over the staffing of embassies at Washington and Moscow.


Ms. Tracy, who speaks Russian, previously served as a senior adviser for Russian affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and as the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. She also held several posts in Central and South Asia.

The previous U.S. ambassador to Moscow, John Sullivan, left earlier this month, in a departure that had been expected this fall but was accelerated by the failing health of his wife, who died a day after his return. Many Russia experts in the United States who might have been candidates for the Moscow post have been banned from Russia.

Ms. Tracy is well-regarded within diplomatic circles. She received a State Department heroism award from Secretary Clinton in 2009.


She is likely to play a central role in negotiations to bring home two Americans the U.S. says Russia is detaining unjustly, a WNBA star, Brittney Griner, and a civilian contractor, Paul Whelan.

According to the Russian business newspaper Kommersant, the staff of the American Embassy in Russia was slashed after the Russian Federation included America on a list of unfriendly countries in 2021 and banned the employment of Russian employees in American diplomatic missions. In 2017, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia was reduced to 455 people from 1,200.

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