Sergey Kisylak, the Russian ambassador, has been a fixture in the news lately as the Democrats have used his contacts with former national security advisor Mike Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to try and take them out. This raises the following question: who exactly is Kislyak?
Here are seven things you need to know about him.
1. Kislyak originally studied engineering. He is a graduate from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute as well as the Soviet Union's Academy of Foreign Trade before working for the Russian foreign ministry.
2. Kislyak has an extensive career working as a Russian diplomat. Here is a timeline of his various diplomatic positions leading up to his current role as Russian ambassador:
Employee of the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation since 1977.
1981-1985 – Second Secretary of the Permanent Mission of the USSR to the UN in New York.
1985-1989 – First Secretary, Counselor of the Embassy of the USSR to the U.S.
1989-1991 – Deputy Director of the Department of International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR.
1991-1993 – Deputy Director of the Department of International Scientific and Technical Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry of the USSR/Russia.
1993-1995 – Director of the Department of International Scientific and Technical Cooperation of the Foreign Ministry of Russia.
1995-1998 – Director of the Department of Security Affairs and Disarmament of the Foreign Ministry of Russia.
1998-2003 – Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Belgium and, simultaneously, Permanent Representative of Russia to NATO in Brussels, Belgium
2003-2008 - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Kislyak has been the Russian ambassador to the United States since 2008; his focus is on arms control.
3. Kisylak has been rumored to be an intelligence recruiter. This what U.S. intelligence has long suspected, but the Russians have denied this and have mocked such suggestions as "American paranoia." Former U.S. ambassador Steven Pifer told the UK Guardian those allegations are "pretty odd," but Alina Polyakova, the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center's deputy director, said that "it's certainly possible. During the Soviet days the embassy was known to serve that function."
4. As the Russian ambassador, Kisylak has consistently tried to establish a rapport with various people in Washington, D.C. Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, told The New York Times that he "was impressed by the way he [Kisylak] went about that kind of socializing, the way he went about entertaining, but always with a political objective" through the various dinners that Krisylak would host. McFaul has even referred to Krisylak as "a tremendous friend and colleague to me."
5. Kisylak has been a staunch defender of Russia and has at times attempted to undermine America's foreign policy. Kisylak's jovial and charismatic nature belies his constant defense of his country. He has criticized Barack Obama's presidential administration for "the revival of the Cold War mentality" as well as the notion of American exceptionalism.
"The difference between your exceptionalism and ours is that we are not trying to impose on you ours, but you do not hesitate to impose on us yours," Kisylak said at an event at Stanford. "That is something we do not appreciate."
Kisylak was responding to a question about the various errors Russia has made in recent years.
McFaul recalled to The New York Times that Kisylak "was actively pushing to try to find fissures and disagreements among us" when the Obama administration was holding negotiations with Russia on nuclear arms treaties. Krisylak was also a key figure in obtaining a deal that stopped the U.S. from removing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as well as gaining support from U.S. politicians for the Iran deal.
6. Kisylak seems to have been a frequent visitor to the Obama White House. According to The Daily Caller, Kisylak is on the White House visitor logs "at least 22 times" to discuss topics such as trade, nuclear weapons and ISIS.
7. Kisylak has signaled that his tenure as the Russian ambassador to the U.S. may end soon. Per The New York Times, Kisylak has lamented that Washington, D.C. "has become lonely, and he has told associates that he is surprised how people who once sought his company were now trying to stay away." A "hard-line general" will likely succeed Kisylak, whose next destination could very well be Russia's ambassador to the United Nations.
This article has been modified to correct Sergey Kisylak's name.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.