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In conversation with R. Nicholas Burns, Faculty Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project, the former US Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle discusses the recent diplomatic impasse(s) in Western dealings with Russia, including the Syria question and highlights opportunities for the future.
served as an American diplomat for more than three decades, in foreign postings and domestic assignments focused on Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and Russia. He was twice appointed ambassador: to Bulgaria (2005-08), and to Russia (2008-12). During the latter assignment he led the implementation of policies leading to improved US-Russian relations, highlighted by the signing of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty, Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and liberalized visa formalities.
Ambassador Beyrle’s diplomatic service included two earlier tours at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, including as Deputy Chief of Mission. He also served as Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic, and member of the U.S. Delegation to the CFE Arms Control Negotiations in Vienna. His Washington assignments included Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for the New Independent States, and Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. He traveled extensively with Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker as a staff officer in the 1980s, and served as an adviser to Senator Paul Simon, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Ambassador Beyrle is the recipient of the Presidential Meritorious Service Award and the Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s highest honor. In 2008 he was awarded a doctoral degree honoris causa by the American University in Bulgaria, and was presented the order of Stara Planina, Bulgaria’s highest state award. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2012, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the US-Russia Foundation.