John F. Tefft

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John F. Tefft
John F Tefft ambassador 2014.jpg
8th United States Ambassador to Russia
In office
November 19, 2014 – September 28, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byMichael McFaul
Succeeded byJon Huntsman Jr.
United States Ambassador to Ukraine
In office
December 7, 2009 – July 29, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byWilliam Taylor
Succeeded byGeoffrey Pyatt
United States Ambassador to Georgia
In office
August 23, 2005 – September 9, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded byRichard Miles
Succeeded byJohn Bass
United States Ambassador to Lithuania
In office
August 30, 2000 – May 10, 2003
PresidentBill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded byKeith C. Smith
Succeeded byStephen Mull
Personal details
Born (1949-08-16) August 16, 1949 (age 70)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Spouse(s)Mariella Cellitti Tefft
Alma materMarquette University
Georgetown University

John F. Tefft (born August 16, 1949) is a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer since 1972. He was confirmed as the United States Ambassador to Russia on July 31, 2014.[1] He has previously served as the United States' ambassador to Ukraine,[2] Georgia, and Lithuania, as well as chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of the United States in Moscow.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Tefft is a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, with the personal rank of Minister-Counselor. He joined the United States Foreign Service in 1972 and has served in Jerusalem, Budapest, Rome, Moscow, Vilnius, Tbilisi, and Kiev.[citation needed]

Until his appointment as ambassador to Georgia, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs since July 6, 2004. Tefft also served as International Affairs Advisor (Deputy Commandant) of the National War College in Washington, D.C. From 2000 to 2003, he was the United States Ambassador to Lithuania. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1996-99 (when Pickering was Ambassador), and was chargé d'affaires at the Embassy from November 1996 to September 1997.[citation needed] Tefft served as Director of the Office of Northern European Affairs from 1992–94, Deputy Director of the Office of Soviet Union (later Russian and CIS) Affairs from 1989–92, and Counselor for Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome from 1986-89. His other foreign assignments included Budapest and Jerusalem, as well as service on the U.S. delegation to the START I arms control negotiations in 1985.[citation needed]

He has served in a number of positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C. and held a fellowship, working in the United States Congress.[citation needed]

On September 30, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Tefft as the next ambassador to Ukraine[3] and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 20, 2009.[4]

Tefft arrived in Ukraine on December 2, 2009[4] and President Viktor Yushchenko accepted Teffts credentials of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on December 7, 2009.[citation needed] The Ambassador expressed his hope for fruitful cooperation. Tefft delivered his speech in Ukrainian.[5]

On February 26, 2013, President Obama nominated Geoffrey R. Pyatt to succeed Tefft as Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine.[6] Pyatt was sworn in on July 30, 2013 and arrived in Ukraine on August 3, 2013.[2]

In July 2014, President Obama nominated Tefft as the United States Ambassador to Russia in Moscow, after receiving Russia's approval.[7] The Senate confirmed Tefft in a voice vote on July 31, 2014.[8] The confirmation followed several attempts as a number of ambassadorial appointments were being held up at the time. Strained relations with Russia over pro-separatist activity in eastern Ukraine, the country's annexation of Crimea, and the alleged shooting down of a commercial airliner, prompted senators to finally approve the nomination.[9] He presented his credentials to President Vladimir Putin on November 19, 2014[10] and left the position on September 28, 2017.[11]

In 2016, the Russian governor of the Samara Oblast, Nikolay Merkushkin, advised AvtoVAZagregat employees for help in paying wages and appeals to US Ambassador John Tefft.[12][13]


USA - DOS Distinguished Honor Award.png

Tefft has received a number of awards, including the State Department Distinguished Honor Award in 1992 and the DCM of the Year Award for his service in Moscow in 1999. He received Presidential Meritorious Service Awards in 2001 and 2005.[citation needed]


Tefft is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and holds a B.A. degree (1971) from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a M.A. degree in history (1978) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.[14]

Tefft is married to Mariella Cellitti Tefft, a biostatistician and nurse. They have two daughters, Christine, a lawyer at the State Department in Washington, D.C., and Cathleen, a program analyst at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Itkowitz, Colby. "Senate confirms nominee to be ambassador to Russia". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b Yanukovych accepts credentials from new US ambassador, discusses with him Ukrainian-US relations, Interfax-Ukraine (August 15, 2013)
  3. ^ Ex- US ambassador to Georgia John Tefft to lead diplomatic mission in Ukraine, Interfax-Ukraine (September 30, 2009)
  4. ^ a b New U.S. ambassador Tefft arrives in Kyiv, Interfax-Ukraine (December 2, 2009)
  5. ^ Yushchenko accepted credentials of US Ambassador and Ambassador of Turkey to Ukraine, UNIAN (December 7, 2009)
  6. ^ Office of the Press Secretary (February 26, 2013). "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". The White House. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  7. ^ "Obama's new man in Moscow is former ambassador to Crimea". Moscow News.Net. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
  8. ^ "SENATE FLOOR PROCEEDINGS". June 28, 2018.
  9. ^ "John Tefft confirmed as new US ambassador to Russia". The US News. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  10. ^ "Ambassador Tefft Presents Predentials to President Putin". Embassy of the United States, Moscow. Archived from the original on November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  11. ^ "Американский посол Теффт улетел из Москвы до назначения преемника" (in Russian). Interfax. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  12. ^ Samara Governor Merkushkin advised AvtoVAZ employees to ask the US ambassador for a salary
  13. ^ There was a record of threats by the governor Merkushkin to deprive AvtoVAZagregat salaries
  14. ^ "Wisconsin native and savvy diplomat Tefft picked for Russia ambassador". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Keith Smith
United States Ambassador to Lithuania
Succeeded by
Stephen Mull
Preceded by
Richard Miles
United States Ambassador to Georgia
Succeeded by
John Bass
Preceded by
William Taylor
United States Ambassador to Ukraine
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Pyatt
Preceded by
Michael McFaul
United States Ambassador to Russia
Succeeded by
Jon Huntsman Jr.