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John Beyrle, U.S.
Ambassador to the Russian Federation (Photo: U.S.
State Department)

John R. Beyrle (born February 11, 1954), a career Foreign Service Officer and specialist in Russian and Eastern European affairs, is currently Ambassador of the United States to the Russian Federationmarker.


Beyrle was born on February 11, 1954 in Muskegon, Michiganmarker. His father, Joseph Beyrle, was a decorated World War II Veteran, who was the only soldier in World War II to serve in both the United States Army and the Soviet Army. He received his bachelor's degree from Grand Valley State Universitymarker, and an Master of Science degree from the National War College. Beyrle completed additional language study in Russian at Middlebury Collegemarker.

Following graduation from the university, he served as a Russian-speaking exhibit guide at several of the major exhibits held in the Soviet Unionmarker under a program of exchanges organized by the United States Information Agency.

He joined the State Departmentmarker in 1983, served his first tour as a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscowmarker (1983-1985), and later was Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow (2003-2005). His other overseas assignments included political officer in Bulgaria (1985-1987), Counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Praguemarker; and member of the U.S. delegation to the Conventional Forces in Europe negotiations in Viennamarker.

His Washington assignments included Acting Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for the New Independent States; Director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council (1993-1995); staff officer to Secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker; and foreign policy adviser to U.S. Senator Paul Simon.

Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2008-)

Ambassador Beyrle was nominated by President George W. Bush on May 13, 2008 to be the United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 27. He arrived in Moscowmarker to present his credentials on July 3, 2008.

Ambassador Beyrle arrived in Moscow on July 3, 2008 and attended the Fourth of July reception at Spaso House, then returned to the United States for consultations. He returned to Moscow in August 2008, shortly after the brief 2008 South Ossetia War, and immediately began meetings with the Russian government. On September 11 in an interview on the Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy he noted that the United States had warned the Georgian government not to respond to provocations and not to send troops into South Ossetiamarker, and he criticized the Russian actions in Georgiamarker, particularly the rapid recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhaziamarker.
Ambassador Beyrle interviewed on Ekho Moskvy Radio, September 11, 2008

He also stated: "The most important step is simply to keep the channels of dialogue open. We are ready to do that, and we see that the Russian side is ready to do that, because there will always be times when our world views don’t agree. But it’s at particularly those difficult moments when we don’t agree that we need to carry on a dialogue; when it’s necessary to talk, to listen well and to hear the meaning of the other side, because without that the possibilities of misunderstanding are very dangerous." .

He formally presented his credentials to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Kremlin on September 18, 2008.

After the election of President Barack Obama in November 2008, Beyrle, because of his Russian expertise, was asked by President Obama to remain at his post in Moscow. He took an active part in the Obama administration's efforts to "reset" the Russian-American relationship. giving interviews in Russian about the new administration's Russia policy on radio station Ekho Mosvkiy, and the Russian TV channels First Canal and Vesti-24. He participated in the meeting of President Obama with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in July 2009 and the meetings of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Medvedev on October 13. He gave speeches in Russian to explain America's desire for better relations with Russia to university student audiences in Vladivostokmarker, St. Petersburgmarker, Nizhniy-Novgorodmarker and Sochimarker..

Ambassador to Bulgaria (2005-2008)

Ambassador Beyrle flew as a passenger on an F-16 during a joint Bulgarian-American training mission at Graf Ignatiev Airbase, 2006

Beyrle became Ambassador to Bulgaria on September 8, 2005, and served in that position until June 25, 2008. During his term as ambassador, Bulgaria signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States allowing U.S. soldiers to train at Bulgarian bases (see article on Bulgarian-American relations). He also oversaw the end of U.S. assistance to Bulgaria from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and made several public speeches urging the Bulgarian Government to step up its fight against organized crime and corruption. In 2007 he made a joint tour of several American cities with Bulgarian Ambassador to the United States Elena Poptodorova, to encourage more American businesses to invest in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian press was generally very favorable toward Ambassador Beyrle, due in large part to his ability to speak and give interviews in Bulgarian. The daily newspaper Standart commented: "for the first time he explained in fluent Bulgarian why the United States is concerned about organized crime and corruption in Bulgaria."

Before Beyrle left Bulgaria, President of Bulgaria Georgi Parvanov presented him with the Stara Planina Medal, the highest award of the Bulgarian Government, for his contributions to Bulgarian-American relations.

References and Citations

  2. RIA Novosti, retrieved July 3, 2008,
  3. Ekho Moskvy Interview, September 11, 2008, in Russian. On Ekho Moskvy website.
  4. Ekho Moskvy, Sept. 11, 2008 (in Russian) on Ekho Moskvy website.
  5. U.S. Embassy Moscow Home Page.
  6. Standart, January 29, 2008, p. 19

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