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Incoming US ambassador to Estonia George Kent arrives in Tallinn

Ambassador Designate George P. Kent. January 30, 2023.
Ambassador Designate George P. Kent. January 30, 2023. Source: U.S. Embassy Tallinn/Flickr

Ambassador Designate George P. Kent has arrived in Tallinn and is preparing to take office as the next U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn announced Monday.

"This morning, Ambassador Designate George P. Kent presented his credentials to the [Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs] for processing," the embassy tweeted late Monday morning. "We look forward to introducing Ambassador Designate Kent to Estonia!"

The incoming ambassador can officially begin serving after presenting his credentials to President Alar Karis. According to ERR's information, Kent is expected to present his credentials to the Estonian president in mid-February.

Until he has officially presented his credentials to President Karis, Charge d'Affaires Gabrielle Cowan, who joined the embassy staff last July, will continue serving as the U.S.' official top-ranking diplomat in Estonia.

Kent was sworn in as ambassador designate in a ceremony led by U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland and attended by Estonian Ambassador to the U.S. Kristjan Prikk in Washington two weeks ago.

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of minister-counselor, George P. Kent most recently served as deputy assistant secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State, the embassy previously wrote. He had also formerly served as deputy chief of mission in Ukraine, prior to which he was senior anti-corruption coordinator in the State Department's European Bureau.

Estonia's new ambassador designate has also served as director for Europe and Asia in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), and since joining the Foreign Service in 1992 has served in U.S. diplomatic missions in Tashkent, Warsaw, Bangkok (twice) and Kyiv (twice).

Kent holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard in Russian History and Literature, a Master of Arts degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a Master of Science degree from the Eisenhower School of the National Defense University.

In addition to English, he also speaks Ukrainian, Russian and Thai. Kent is also a J. Kirby Simon Fund trustee.

Third time's the charm

The U.S. hasn't had an ambassador present in Estonia since career diplomat James D. Melville, Jr. resigned in June 2018, citing statements made at the time by then-President Donald Trump regarding NATO and the EU.

In fall 2019, Trump appointed supporter William Ellison Grayson the next ambassador to Estonia, who was confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate in July 2020. Grayson never made it to Estonia, however, due to COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions and the subsequent election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

In 2017, Trump had previously nominated former Rear Admiral Edward Masso, the son of an Estonian war refugee, to the position, but thereafter retracted his nomination in May 2018.

Kent was announced by the Biden administration as candidate for ambassador to Estonia early last September. The U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment on December 13.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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