Donald Trump

Sergey Kislyak, Putin's Top Diplomat in US, Returning to Russia

U.S. officials told NBC News that the decision on Kislyak's departure pre-dated the election meddling controversy

Moscow's top diplomat in the United States, the central figure in suspicions about President Donald Trump connections with Russia, is returning to his country after almost a decade in the job, a former U.S. official confirmed Monday.

Sergey Kislyak, 66, will depart his position as Russian ambassador to the U.S. at the end of the summer as part of a long-planned rotation, two other U.S. officials told NBC News.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov — a hardliner who is under European Union sanctions for supporting the deployment of troops in Ukraine in his former capacity as deputy minister of defense — is being lined up as his replacement.

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The move comes amid investigations by the FBI and Congress into Kislyak's contacts with Trump aides during the 2016 election campaign.

U.S. officials told NBC News that the decision on Kislyak's departure pre-dated the controversy, while Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Monday declined to confirm the switch.

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