Following a meeting Monday between Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key U.S. official announced her resignation. Reports indicate that Evelyn Farkas has been employed by the U.S. Department of Defense for five years and has served most recently as deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
One source cited by Politico explained that Farkas “has advised three secretaries of defense on Russia policy, providing steady counsel on how the U.S. should respond to Russia’s aggressive actions and has been deeply involved in securing $244 million in support for Ukraine.”
While the Obama administration has been criticized – even by some former insiders – for its perceived permissiveness regarding Russia’s aggressive military action, Farkas has maintained the Defense Department’s more aggressive stance. During a 2014 Senate testimony, she described Russia’s occupying forces as “an affront to the international order that we and our allies have worked to build since the end of the Cold War.”
Though early reports do not offer any official reason for her departure, there has been speculation that her motivation lies in a disagreement with the administration’s foreign policy positions.
Pentagon’s top Russia official, tough Evelyn Farkas resigns, most probably over differences with the White House. http://t.co/f36UfJ2s3i
— Eugeniusz Smolar (@esmolar) September 29, 2015
Regardless of her reasoning, experts believe finding an appropriate replacement will be a tall order for the Pentagon.
“There are not a lot of Europe experts in this administration who have a long record of accomplishment,” one defense official said. “There’s no doubt this leaves the Pentagon weaker in terms of its policy-making on European issues.”