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Marc Champion

Tefft the Terminator Heads to Moscow

It's an indication how little the U.S. and Russia expect from their relationship that the U.S. has nominated John Tefft, a career diplomat and annoyance to the Russians, to be the new ambassador in Moscow, and the Russians said fine. 
Tefft, on the left, in his Georgian days
Tefft, on the left, in his Georgian days

To understand how little the U.S. and Russia expect of their relationship these days, consider this: The Barack Obama administration has put forward John Tefft, who is something of a bogeyman for the Russians, to become the next ambassador to Moscow -- and the Kremlin today said it's fine with that.

Tefft is a former ambassador to both Georgia and Ukraine. From 2005 to 2009, he worked unusually closely with Georgia's then-President Mikheil Saakashvili. During this period, Russia fumed over Georgia's tight relationship with the U.S. and its efforts to join NATO. In 2008, Russia and Georgia went to war.

A year before that, Tefft described in since-leaked diplomatic cables how he viewed Russian actions in Georgia in terms that could now apply to Ukraine. He said the Russians were using covert operations to turn Georgia from the West, destabilize the country and restore their control. "The Russians are aggressively playing a high-stakes, covert game, and they consider few if any holds barred," he wrote.