Russia’s ambassador to London, Aleksandr Yakovenko, has completed his assignment in Britain, the embassy has said.
The embassy said in a statement on August 24 that Yakovenko had "relinquished his duties" and that Ivan Volodin, currently the minister-counselor, will act as charge d'affaires.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Yakovenko’s departure was a "regular rotation of diplomatic mission heads" and not related to the recent worsening of relations between Moscow and London.
In a tweet, Volodin said he was "humbled and honored" to assume the duties in London, replacing Yakovenko, who had been appointed to the post in 2011.
The Kommersant newspaper reported that Andrei Kelin, the director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of European Cooperation, could be in line to become the new ambassador.
The newspaper said Yakovenko was being considered for the job of heading the ministry’s Diplomatic Academy.
London's relations with Moscow have deteriorated in recent years, especially after former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury on March 4, 2018.
It was later discovered they had been exposed to Novichok, a Soviet-made military nerve agent. They both recovered, but two other British citizens were exposed to the nerve agent in June 2018, apparently by accident; one of them, Dawn Sturgess, died.
London has blamed Moscow for the poisoning and expelled 23 Russian diplomats in the wake of the scandal.
Moscow, which denied involvement, in response expelled the same number of British diplomats and ordered the closure of the British Consulate-General in Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, and the British Council’s offices operating in the country.
The United States and the European Union also expelled Russian diplomats and added to their existing sanctions on Moscow.
Yakovenko two weeks ago said in an interview with Russian TV that “we hope that life in general will compel Britain to take a sensible position and just return to normal, mutually respectful and pragmatic relations with Russia.”