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