Can the ‘Silver Fox’ outwit Vladimir Putin?

Image credit: BBC

Wendy Sherman, one of the world’s most powerful diplomats, is known as the Silver Fox for her pure white mane and astute deal-making abilities. She is assisting in the leadership of the US-Russia discussions in Europe on Wednesday.

Ms Sherman, the United States’ Deputy Secretary of State and one of the department’s senior officials have been meeting with Russian officials to discuss Ukraine this week. The stakes are high.

President Vladimir Putin has stationed over 100,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, raising concerns of an assault and triggering warnings from the West.

Negotiations with the Russians are one way for US officials to alleviate the tense situation, and Ms Sherman is in her element.
She is known in Washington for her sassy demeanour and a reputation for taking on difficult matters head-on.

She attempted to reach a deal with North Korea under President Bill Clinton to halt their nuclear weapons development.

While President Barack Obama was in office, she took the lead in the US team’s nuclear discussions with Iran in 2011. She finally had a role in the historic nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1, which includes the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany, which was reached in 2015.

Ms Sherman stated at the time that being a woman did not hinder her progress at the negotiation table, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s severe laws about male-female contact.

Ms Sherman, 72, has a pale complexion and short, steely-grey hair, and despite the arduous nature of international negotiations, she always appears well-dressed “never a hair out of place,” according to a British diplomat who has dealt with her.

Because of her deceptive approach to their negotiations, the Iranians dubbed her “The Fox.” Her colleagues at the State Department embraced the moniker, even wearing “Silver Fox” T-shirts during the talks.

She unconventionally honed her diplomatic talents: after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, she worked with foster children in Baltimore.