In the weeks after his inauguration, President Donald Trump appointed a former KGB officer and Russian spy as the U.N. ambassador to replace an anti-Kremlin ambassador, Samantha Power.
In the process, the administration is making Russia a key ally of the Trump administration and the United States a central player in the international fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
But the man Trump appointed to head the U-N, former Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin, is not the only Russian operative in the U, and it appears he is far from the only one.
The Russian Ambassador to the U.-N, Sergey Kislyak, is also the head of the Russian-controlled television station RT, and he is reportedly the author of the highly controversial, pro-Kiev, documentary RT America, which is widely viewed as a propaganda tool by pro-Russian and pro-American audiences.
On the night of the election, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Trump for his victory and then ordered him to appoint the man who would be Russia’s new U.S. ambassador, as the Kremlin has long sought.
In this excerpt from The Daily Beast’s investigation, we look at the role that Churkins, and his network of pro-Russia TV stations, have played in shaping U.A.E. opinion about the U., including the U’s role in the civil war in Syria.
The RT America documentary was produced by Churhan, who also served as an adviser to Putin during his time as prime minister.
But RT America’s director of programming, Alexander Lukashevich, and the director of the U in Moscow, Sergei Krasovsky, were also on Trump’s shortlist of nominees for ambassador to Russia, according to people familiar with the process.
RT America has been running a nightly news program in the Russian capital since its inception in 2014, but it has also been active in disseminating propaganda about the conflict in Syria, which has left millions of people dead.
The channel’s viewers have been disproportionately sympathetic to Russia’s position on Syria, including in its support of the Assad regime.
It also broadcasts on a regular basis from a U.K.-based satellite dish in Moscow.
While Churhans office is a part of the Foreign Ministry, his TV stations are not, and they have no legal or financial ties to Russia.
According to two U.M. officials, the U has had no communication with RT America and its director of programs in Moscow since last summer.
In a brief phone interview, a State Department official who was familiar with its Russia policy said it had « no knowledge » of Churkhans appointment to the job, but that the State Department is « in regular contact » with the State Agency for European Affairs.
RT’s documentary has been widely viewed by U.R.N.-aligned pro-Assad groups around the world.
One of the channel’s co-producers, Ilya Shevchenko, a U-R.A.-affiliated Syrian opposition activist, was a key figure in the 2011-2012 uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is now serving a life sentence.
He was also an adviser on RT America to President Trump.
During the campaign, Trump had promised to « get Putin out » of Syria.
« He’s not going to go out on a limb like Russia, » he said during the campaign.
The U.U.S.-Russia relationship is a longstanding and close one, as is that of many other nations on the planet.
In January, Trump met with Churakhin for a second time in his role as U.O.A.’s director of operations.
In that meeting, Churchenko assured Trump that Russia was working closely with the U and that it was « going to support his efforts to put an end to the civil wars. »
Churhakins role at RT America was not revealed to U.W. officials until this week.
The cable-news network is owned by a subsidiary of the Kremlin-backed RT TV, which was recently shut down in Russia.
RT is not a state-run media outlet.
It is financed and operated by the Kremlin, and its broadcasts are not subject to the usual U.C.V. restrictions on foreign propaganda.
But it has been a favorite of pro-‘Russias Kremlin-friendly media.
In April 2016, RT America ran a program titled « The New Cold War » that discussed U.D.S./Russian relations and the possibility of a new Cold War.
The program’s title refers to a recent U.s.-Russia agreement to limit the number of Americans allowed to enter Russia, as well as the two countries’ ongoing fight against ISIS.
RT AMERICA is owned and operated solely by a Moscow-based company called the Russia Broadcasting Company.
RT was created in 2003, and in 2013, RT received a license to broadcast in the United Kingdom, the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa