The White House has appointed Jon Huntsman, a former envoy
to China, as the new Ambassador to Russia, it said Tuesday in an online
statement.

The pick of Huntsman, who was envoy under the Obama
Administration and two-time governor of Utah, has not come as a surprise.

As early as in March, there were reports that Huntsman would
be Washington’s preferred candidate.

Russian media and officials at the time portrayed Huntsman
as a “hardliner.” Alexei Pushkov, the former head of the State Duma international affairs committee and now a senator told the
RBC news outlet: “Trump has surrounded himself with people who don’t want to
improve relations with Russia,” saying Huntsman was “definitely no dove.”

But foreign
policy expert Vladimir Frolov predicted in an op-ed for The Moscow Times that
the choice would be “welcomed by Moscow.”

“At a minimum, the decision will reduce the unpredictability
of U.S.-Russia relations,” he said.

Huntsman is taking up the post at a time when the Trump
Administration is mired in scandal over its links to Russia.

News of his appointment has quickly been trumped by a report
that the U.S. and Russian presidents had a second, until now unknown, meeting
at the G20 summit in Hamburg.

Before he moves to Moscow, Huntsman’s appointment will still
have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.