On July 4th, Russia Direct attended the Independence Day celebration at Spaso House, the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Moscow, and spoke to the new Deputy Chief of Mission Lynne Tracy.

The Independence Day celebration at the Spaso House in Moscow. Photo: Russia Direct.

Given that Independence Day is one of the most popular holidays in the United States, it’s perhaps no surprise that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow celebrates this event every year with its Russian friends and colleagues from other embassies.

The official part of the event started with the Chargé d'Affaires Sheila Gwaltney’s speech. She stated that, even though Russia and the U.S. are going through a difficult phase in bilateral relations, it does not mean that there is no way to find a diplomatic solution that will satisfy both sides. We should continue to communicate at all levels and seek to counter our differences while respecting each other's views.

Giving her speech in both Russian and English, she also reminded the international guests that the 4th of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a document that  signifies how important it is for everyone to have equal rights and the right to the pursuit of happiness. In the hard times that Russia and the U.S. relations are going through, it is vital to remember this in our future political and economic interactions.

She also officially introduced to the public the new Deputy Chief of Mission Lynne Tracy, who arrived just a day before the event and was going to replace Mrs. Gwaltney in her position.

We met with Ms. Tracy later on and spoke to her briefly about her expectations from the future work and how she thought the 4th of July is celebrated differently in the U.S. and Russia.

Sheila Gwaltney (left) introduces the new Deputy Chief of Mission Lynne Tracy (centre) to the public. Photo: U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

Russia Direct: How is Independence Day in the U.S. different from the one in Moscow?

Lynne Tracy: This is my first 4th of July in Moscow. It is a more international event: There are representatives from other embassies, Russian friends and colleagues who are attending. At the many of the 4th of July events that I’ve attended in my home state of Ohio, it was all Americans. Here are guests who are from different cultures. It relates to America, a country that is all about the diversity of traditions. So I think this is a wonderful 4th of July and the weather is with us.

RD: Have you had an opportunity to meet any Russian officials today?

LT: I met with a few senior guests and I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity to talk to them as I get settled into my position. There are many issues to discuss. There are some serious issues on the table. We have a lot of work ahead.

RD: What can you say about Washington’s request to Moscow to approve the nomination of John Tefft for the position of U.S. Ambassador?

LT: The final decision on the matter has not been made by the White House and the U.S. Congress, so nothing has been announced yet. The only thing I can say is that we very much want to have an ambassador here that will be very helpful and important for our relations. I think we need to have a good and strong diplomat for this position. Until then, I am going to fill in and act in that capacity.