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Jon M. Huntsman Jr. Resigns as U.S. Ambassador to Russia

Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the United States ambassador in Moscow who carried out President Trump’s policies during a highly turbulent period of sanctions and investigations into Russian electoral interference, resigned on Tuesday.

The move had been expected amid reports that Mr. Huntsman, a former Utah governor, would return to politics in his home state.

Mr. Huntsman had kept a low profile through much of his tenure in Moscow, as a special prosecutor in the United States investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. He had been nominated by Mr. Trump as the new administration took over in 2017.

In his resignation letter, Mr. Huntsman said he was honored by the trust that Mr. Trump had placed in him “during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations.”

During his tenure, Mr. Huntsman wrote, the United States Embassy saw “unprecedented expulsions, forced departures and enormous professional disruptions.” His diplomats, he added, worked in “one of the world’s most forbidding environments.”

Mr. Huntsman, who had also served as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama, had won praise from business people for supporting what American commerce remained legal after a series of United States sanctions.

Relations with Moscow soured in 2014, leading to sanctions, after Russia waged a military incursion into Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

Washington and Moscow have been at odds on other fronts: They back opposing sides in Syria’s civil war. And spy scandals have prompted further tensions, and sanctions. They included a series of restrictions imposed on Russia in the poisoning of a former double agent, Sergei Skripal, in Britain with a military-grade nerve agent.

In June, Mr. Huntsman visited an American, Paul Whelan, who was arrested in Russia on charges of spying and remains in jail awaiting trial.

More recently, Washington imposed a ban on American banks buying Russian sovereign debt.

“Going forward, we must continue to hold Russia accountable when its behavior threatens us and our allies,” Mr. Huntsman said in his resignation letter, which was released by the American Embassy in Moscow. “No reset or restart is going to help, just a clear understanding of our interests and values.”

The resignation, he said, is effective Oct. 3.

Mr. Huntsman, who hails from an influential Utah family, was twice elected governor of Utah, in 2004 and 2008, before leaving the position to serve as ambassador to China in 2009. In 2011, he ran in the Republican presidential primaries. The Salt Lake Tribune reported, citing people close to Mr. Huntsman, that he is considering a run for Utah governor next year.


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