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Russia: John Beyrle Nominated To Be Next U.S. Ambassador

John Beyrle, who has been nominated to be the next U.S. ambassador to Russia (file photo) (AFP) U.S. President George W. Bush has nominated John Beyrle to be Washington's next ambassador to Russia.

Beyrle's nomination was announced by the White House after Bush spoke by telephone to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on May 12.

The nomination requires approval by the U.S. Senate. If approved, Beyrle will fill the vacancy left after former Ambassador William Burns was appointed U.S. undersecretary for political affairs.

Beyrle is considered one of the best experts on the former communist bloc in the U.S. diplomatic corps. The 54-year-old Beyrle began his diplomatic career in 1983 as a member of the U.S. delegation in charge of talks with the Soviet leadership on reducing the use of conventional weapons.

Beyrle, who speaks fluent Russian, later served as U.S. deputy chief of mission in Moscow and as counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech capital, Prague. He currently serves as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria.

Beyrle's connection with the former Soviet Union goes back a long way. His father, Joseph, is the only known World War II soldier to have fought both for the U.S. and Soviet armies. Joseph Beyrle was taken prisoner during combat in France. In 1945, he fled German captivity and convinced the Soviet Army to allow him to fight alongside its soldiers on their way to Berlin.

He was wounded a month later and evacuated to a Soviet hospital, where he received a visit from powerful Soviet military commander Marshal Georgy Zhukov. Intrigued by his unusual story, Zhukov provided Beyrle with official papers to rejoin U.S. forces and sent him to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Joseph Beyrle was handed a medal in 1994 from both U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin at a White House ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy in 1944.