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Sergey Strokan: Is this the real reason why Victoria Nuland quit?

Biden and Blinken chose a China hater over their chief Russophobe. This may have pushed her over the edge.

The forthcoming resignation of US Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has given rise to various theories as to the reason for her unexpected departure from the State Department. Moscow believes it’s due to the failure of the “anti-Russian course” and of the overall American”Ukrainian project.” In turn, eyes in Washington are turning to the nomination of Kurt Campbell, currently responsible for Indo-Pacific policy, to the role of the second-ranking official in the State Department. The media and analysts interpret this as evidence that Asia is becoming Washington’s top priority against the backdrop of declining US interest in Ukraine.

Nuland’s announcement came as a surprise to many. The veteran US diplomat, who played an active part in the 2014 Maidan events in Ukraine, is remembered not only for handing out cookies in Kiev, but also for her involvement in major international crises and conflicts in recent decades.

Her record of more than 35 years at the US State Department under various administrations looks more impressive than the CV of the current secretary of state, Mr Blinken. On Tuesday, he himself rushed to pay tribute to Nuland’s achievements and solemnly escorted her out of the State Department and straight into the history and diplomacy books. Recalling that she had served under six presidents and ten secretaries of state, Blinken argued that in her last post in the Joe Biden administration she had embodied the desire to restore “America’s global leadership.”

The head of the State Department paid special attention to the role played by Nuland in the formation of the anti-Russia coalition after the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, calling her efforts indispensable, and saying they will be studied by future diplomats and students.

The main task that Nuland has been working on in recent years, he said, was the “strategic defeat” of Russia and helping Ukraine “to stand on its own feet democratically, economically and militarily.” But despite all her experience and influence, it seems Blinken didn’t try to dissuade her from resigning.

The news triggered an avalanche of reactions from leading Russian politicians, diplomats, experts and the media.

According to Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Nuland was forced to resign because of the failure of Biden’s course on Russia.

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“This is a failure of the policy associated with Nuland, because she was the central figure who pursued a Russophobic policy towards our country, the whole story was tied to Nuland,” Zakharova said. According to her, the outgoing US deputy secretary of state was “not just a high-ranking representative of the State Department, but a key figure in US interagency cooperation.”

“She was a coordinator of anti-Russian sentiment and anti-Russian policy by the United States, especially in the context of Ukraine. I can’t say that she was an ideologue. There are people out there who hate us more, but she really was a coordinator, she is associated with that policy. And that is how they said goodbye to her,” the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, a theory has emerged in Washington that Nuland’s resignation was the result of a power struggle in which she lost the race for the post of first deputy foreign policy chief.

Some pundits see a battle of narratives, with behind-the-scenes jockeying of personalities. All part of a dispute over the long-term shape of US foreign policy and its priorities.

It should be recalled that after Wendy Sherman resigned last summer as US deputy secretary of state, her duties were carried out for six months by Nuland. At the end of last year, however, the White House made the unexpected decision to nominate Campbell, another veteran of American diplomacy, for the second post in the diplomatic service. Campbell, who does not have as big a name in the diplomatic world as Nuland, has made his career not in the Euro-Atlantic but in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Ms. Nuland was considered the natural candidate to replace Ms. Sherman on a permanent basis. But Mr Blinken nominated Kurt Campbell, the former National Security Council representative for Asia,” the New York Times commented on the reshuffle. James Carden, a former US State Department official, told RIA Novosti: “I was actually surprised that she lasted as long as she did. I realised her time was up when Kurt Campbell got the second-ranked job at the department.” In a Senate vote on 6 February, his nomination received broad bipartisan support: 92 senators voted in favour, with five voting against.

“President Biden’s choice of Kurt Campbell signals a desire to continue the efforts begun by his predecessors decades ago to shift the focus of US foreign policy to China as the major challenge facing America in the future,” AP commented on the reshuffle.

“Kurt Campbell played a key role in developing President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot to Asia’ into President Biden’s Indo-Pacific strategy,” Yuri Tavrovsky, chairman of the expert council of the Russian-Chinese Friendship, Peace and Development Committee, told Kommersant.

“In practical terms, he was particularly active in the creation of the anti-Chinese military bloc AUKUS (Australia, the UK and the US) and in strengthening the military component of the QUAD group (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – Australia, India, the US and Japan,” Tavrovsky said. “The appointment of Campbell to the second-highest post in the State Department demonstrates the White House’s long-term course of containing China, despite words and gestures that look like a desire for reconciliation.”

Thus, according to Mr Tavrovsky, “the second place in the State Department went not to the greatest hater of Russia, but to the greatest hater of China.”

This article was first published by Kommersant, translated and edited by the RT team

March 08, 2024 at 02:54PM
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