At Center of All These Russia Stories: Sergey Kislyak
Ambassador is said to be a master networker
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 3, 2017 12:45 PM CST
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In this Sept. 6, 2013, file photo, Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the US, speaks with reporters at the Center for the National Interest in Washington.   (AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

(Newser) – As Attorney General Jeff Sessions remains mired in controversy about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, more info is emerging about the man NBC News refers to as "the shadowy apparatchik at the center of Trump's Russia crisis." Kislyak, who has held his post since 2008, was the same Russian official who spoke with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn—leading to the latter's resignation—and the same one at least two other Trump advisers have admitted to chatting with, per USA Today. More on the 66-year-old Kislyak, who NBC notes has kept a "remarkably low profile" in more than 40 years of service to his country:

  • The Washington Post calls him "quiet, careful, rumpled and portly," and says he "shows up everywhere and tries to talk to everyone." He is not, however, thought to be especially close to Vladimir Putin.
  • Kislyak was even in attendance on Tuesday at President Trump's address to Congress, per the Guardian. Its profile notes that he trained as an engineer and first worked as an envoy in the 1980s, under Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • The AP tries to reconcile Kislyak's new reputation as the "Kevin Bacon of the Trump White House's Russia imbroglio" with his old one as an under-the-radar diplomat who would be the last person observers would think was involved in controversy.
  • Politico offers a look at "Washington's most dangerous diplomat," noting that Kislyak was front and center at a Trump foreign policy speech last April in which Trump called for an easing of US-Russia relations. And in November, Kislyak accused America of carrying out a "huge propaganda campaign against Russia."
  • A story at CNN takes a look at another accusation often thrown Kislyak's way by US intelligence officials: that he's a Russian spy who tries to recruit others.
  • Not everyone agrees with that assessment, per ABC News, which cites ex-US ambassadors and analysts who take issue with the espionage claims. "If he's a spy, then all ambassadors are spies," one former US diplomat says.
  • One thing he's exceptional at: networking, says the New York Times, revealing details of "over-the-top" dinners he likes to throw for guests at his Beaux Arts mansion in Washington and his ability to entertain, but "always with a political objective," per a former US ambassador to Russia.

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