NEW YORK CITY, NY – The United Nations announced Wednesday that a top Russian diplomat will head up its newly created counterterrorism body, a big win for Russian President Vladimir Putin as the country seeks to exert more pressure at the U.N. and a move likely to upset the Trump administration.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres announced that Russian diplomat Vladimir Voronkov would be the Under-Secretary-General of the newly created United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office, an office formally approved last week. Voronkov is Russia’s Ambassador to International Organisations in Vienna and has more than three decades of diplomatic service.
“The Under-Secretary-General will provide strategic leadership to United Nations counter-terrorism efforts, participate in the decision-making process of the United Nations and ensure that the cross-cutting origins and impact of terrorism are reflected in the work of the United Nations,” the Secretary-General’s office said in a statement.
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak had widely been considered the frontrunner for the post, but it was possible his international notoriety – namely his connection to the controversy surrounding alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election – made the Russians opt for a less sensational pick.
Kislyak’s name has been in the newspapers ad nauseam in recent months, with controversy surrounding his meetings with President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned after giving an inaccurate account of his meeting with Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence.
Voronkov’s appointment gives Russia a top position at U.N.’s headquarters in New York and a key say in U.N. policy in disputed terror hot spots such as Syria. It is likely to upset members of the Trump administration, with U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley telling Fox News recently that the administration was against a Russian being given the nod.
“I don’t want to see them get it,” Haley said. “That’s not something we would cheer for but I wouldn’t be surprised if they got it.”
She went on to say that, because it was a new position, “we have the possibility to shape what it is, and what it isn’t.”
A request for comment to Haley’s office from Breitbart News on Voronkov’s appointment was not immediately returned.
One Western diplomat, asked by CBS News if a Russian diplomat running the counterterrorism office amounted to the fox guarding the chicken coop, said, “There are a lot of animals at the U.N.”
He reportedly added that “there is even a place for foxes” at the United Nations.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.