Senate confirms Jon Huntsman as Russia ambassador

Senate confirms Jon Huntsman as Russia ambassador

WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed Jon Huntsman as the next U.S. ambassador to Russia by voice vote Thursday, filling a critical diplomatic vacancy at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow.

The former Utah governor, Republican presidential candidate and U.S. ambassador to Singapore and China went through his confirmation process swiftly and with strong bipartisan support. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved his nomination, also by voice vote, earlier this week; Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., the committee’s top Democrat, later said that if Trump was going to make the Russian ambassadorship a political appointment, he couldn’t have made a better choice than Huntsman.

Senate confirmation clears the way for Huntsman to head to Moscow, where several delicate diplomatic challenges await. The United States is currently locking horns with Russia over its meddling in Ukraine, its involvement in the war in Syria, and alleged support for the regime in North Korea.

The new ambassador will also preside over U.S.-Russia relations at a time when federal and congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign are picking up steam.

Huntsman told senators earlier this month that he believed the findings of the intelligence community that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.