Sergey Kislyak, the Russian diplomat at the center of allegations of Russian ties to the Trump campaign, could soon have a new job: Counter-terrorism czar for UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres.
In February, Guterres outlined his plan to create the new office and position for counter-terrorism to be headed by an Under-Secretary-General in order to coordinate the UN’s anti-terrorism policies. Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the U.S. since 2008, is believed to be the frontrunner for the job.
Hugh Dugan, a professor at Seton Hall’s Center for UN and Global Governance Studies, told Fox News that the deal to let a Russian get the position was, “a closed process,” when the new Secretary General was voted upon last October.
“Russia was the chair of that process and it seems that they made a deal on the side to select Secretary-General (Guterres) in exchange for creating a new office dedicated to Russia in the Secretariat's highest levels.”
Four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council hold a senior position within the UN Secretariat - its executive branch - in New York. While a Russian heads the UN office in Vienna, the expected appointment would give Putin’s Russia a seat at the Secretary General’s table in New York.
"I don't want to see them get it," U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told Fox News. "That's not something we would cheer for but I wouldn't be surprised if they got it."
Haley told Fox News that Guterres is aware of her concerns on the matter.
“This will be a new position that they have not had before so we have the possibility to shape what it is, and what it isn't,” she said.
"There are Russians and there are Russians," one Western diplomat told Fox News. "I don't think that we, or anyone else, have given the Secretary General a blank check to appoint whichever Russian he likes to this job and of course he wouldn't."
"There will be some Russians that will be unacceptable, but there are plenty of Russians who will be acceptable,” the Western diplomat told Fox News.
While not speculating on who the candidate might be the Western diplomat acknowledged that Russia is under-represented at the highest level of the organization compared to other permanent members of the UN Security Council, and that of all the top jobs counter-terrorism was one that could be discussed with the Russians despite some differences.
The Russian mission to the UN did not offer comment to Fox News when asked about the matter.
Dugan, who served 11 US ambassadors at the UN, said it’s unfortunate for the Trump administration to inherit this situation, given that it happened under President Obama’s watch. He said the appointment would result in Russia re-establishing itself at the heart of the organization.
“After 30 years of Soviet decomposition, this would be a Russian redux throughout the UN Secretariat's highest levels. With a new, managerially challenged Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, already compromised by dealing this gig to Russia, Kislyak will find it a surprisingly easy walk, right from the red carpet directly to the control booth,” Dugan said.
The Secretary General’s spokesman wouldn’t confirm to Fox News whether Kislyak was the Secretary General’s choice for the position, but said an announcement should come soon.
Fox News Channel's Eric Shawn contributed to this report
Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs.
He can be followed @BenEvansky