The US Ambassador to Russia has quit and urged Donald Trump to hold Vladimir Putin to account in his parting letter.
Jon Huntsman’s resignation signals the end of a two-year stint during a “historically difficult” time in relations between the two countries.
It comes after reports that Trump and Putin discussed the need for a new US ambassador in Russia while speaking on the phone last week.
In his resignation letter, Huntsman urged Trump to stand up to the Russian President and work to stabilise “years of acrimony”.
“Going forward, we must continue to hold Russia accountable when its behaviour threatens us and our allies,” Huntsman told Trump.
He acknowledged there are “irreconcilable” differences between the two countries, but said there are also common interests.
Huntsman reminded Trump that Russia has a history of disrespecting human rights and violating the sovereignty of its neighbours.
“While times are tough, it is critical that we increase exchanges of people and maintain channels for dialogue on issues of national interest,” he wrote.
These include combatting terrorism and ensuring “verifiable arms control”.
He warned Trump against the kind of “reset” with Russia that humiliated the Obama administration.
“No reset or restart is going to help…Failure is not an option.”
In the letter, Huntsman said he was honoured by the trust Trump placed in him “during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations”.
During his years as Trump’s man in Moscow, a number of high-profile incidents have strained relations between the US and Russia.
Former Russia spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury, UK, with a Novichok nerve agent in March last year.
In the wake of the attempted assassination, Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats the US identified as intelligence agents.
Moscow responded by expelling the same number of American diplomats.
Huntsman also served as the ambassador during Robert Mueller’s two-year Russia probe.
He revealed in November that he had stage one melanoma – a diagnosis that he did not share with anyone in Moscow out of concern over how the information would be received.
The diplomat said both he and his wife, Mary Kaye, had given the sensitive assignment their best.
The decision comes as the Trump administration is also dealing with the departure of Fiona Hill, the top official on Russian affairs at the National Security Council.
Source: The Sun