EXCLUSIVE: Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak ‘Very Likely’ to Head U.N. Counterterrorism Office, Source Says

Sergei Kislyac BRENDAN SMIALOWSKIAFPGetty Images)

Russia’s U.S. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak — a man at the center of the alleged Russian ties to the Trump campaign — is being eyed for a new job, with a high-level United Nations official telling Breitbart News it is “very likely” he will soon be named the senior official in charge of counterterrorism at the United Nations.

Secretary-General António Guterres has proposed a restructuring of the U.N.’s counterterrorism efforts, including a new office to be headed by a new Under-Secretary-General — one of the highest ranks in the international body.

Sources within the U.N. told Breitbart News that Russia would almost certainly be choosing the candidate, and while one official cautioned that it is far from clear that Kislyak would be the man chosen by Russia for the post, a high-level official told Breitbart that it is “widely believed” in U.N. circles that Kislyak has gotten the nod from Moscow, and that Guterres would agree to make the recommendation to the General Assembly.

“It is not definite, but very likely,” the official said.

Kislyak’s name has also been reported by Russian media outlets as the likely favorite. Russia’s Kommersant has reported that Kislyak is likely to leave his current role in July and be replaced by Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov.

Kommersant report Friday naming Kislyak as Russia’s favored candidate was published just hours before Secretary-General António Guterres was due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.

CBS News, which reported last week that Kislyak was one of the candidates in the running for the post, cited officials saying that there had been a quid-pro-quo agreement last year by which Russia would forego its regional turn in the pick of the next Secretary-General, and be rewarded by a Russian appointed head of the new office.

However, Guterres spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told Breitbart News that the proposal for the new counterterrorism structure is still to be approved by the General Assembly, and only after that process is completed would the process of choosing a candidate for the job begin.

If appointed, it would mark a high-profile move for one of the most well-known Russian officials in America, and one central to allegations of links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

In February, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it was revealed he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about meetings with Kislyak. In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any investigation into alleged Russian interference in the election after it was revealed he met twice with Kislyak during the campaign — meetings he did not disclose at his Senate hearing.  

Kislyak, along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, also met with President Trump in May at the White House — a meeting which subsequently caused controversy after it was leaked to The Washington Post that Trump had shared classified intelligence during the meeting.

Also in May, The Post reported that Kislyak and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner had discussed setting up a secret communications channel between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team in December.

Neither the Russian Embassy nor the Russian Foreign Ministry responded to requests for comment on the potential appointment by Breitbart News.

If confirmed, Kislyak’s appointment would mean in theory that a high-profile Russian official would be in charge of a counterterrorism unit, based in New York City and presumably handling sensitive information. However, one of the sources that spoke to Breitbart News said that the new office is seen as just another layer of bureaucracy on top of the existing counterterror task force.

Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY


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