Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov as the new Russian ambassador to the United States.
Mr Antonov was defence minister from 2011 and 2016, a period which coincided with Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
He is now subject to European sanctions over his role in the conflict.
The European Union added him two years ago to its list of officials who are subject to Ukraine-related sanctions, citing his involvement in supporting the deployment of Russian troops to Ukraine.
Mr Antonov replaces Sergei Kislyak who served for more than nine years as Moscow’s envoy to Washington.
Mr Kislyak contacts with members of President Donald Trump’s campaign team made him a central figure in the row over Russian influence over the U.S. presidential election.
Since becoming deputy foreign minister last year, Antonov has acted as a liaison between the foreign ministry and the military.
The armed forces have growing influence over foreign policy, especially since Moscow launched its military operation in Syria.