Earlier this week, Secretary Clinton swore in Michael McFaul as the US's new ambassador to Russia.
Considered to be one of the foremost American experts on Russia, McFaul was most recently the head advisor on Russia and Eurasia in Obama's National Security Council and architect of Obama's Russia reset policy. The choice of McFaul represents Obama's determination to "keep Russian-American relations a centerpiece of his foreign policy after his early push to reset the relationship following years of growing tension."
An expert on Russia, democracy, and electoral politics, McFaul's deep reaching connections in Moscow and reputation as a tough negotiator will be useful at a time when (in his own words) "the alignment of our interests and values is neither simple nor easy"; when the two nations' cooperation is both critical and deep-reaching but not without obstacles.
He is known to be an avid supporter of Russian democratization efforts and in opposition to Putin's repression of dissent. In the past, McFaul has been denounced by a member of the Russian Duma and later invited to Russia by Yelstin's inner circle.
During her remarks, Clinton said: "The coming months and years will be crucial for Russian democracy. Russians from all walks of life and every corner of this great country are making their voices heard, both face to face and in cyberspace, expressing their hopes for the future. [...] I can think of no better representative of our values and our interest in a strong, politically vibrant, open, democratic Russia, as well as a deepening U.S.-Russian partnership."
McFaul is a Stanford political science professor (on leave) and is affiliated with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Eurasia Foundation, and Freedom House (among others). He will be only the second US ambassador to Russia in the previous thirty years who was not a career diplomat.
To read more:
- McFaul Sworn In As New U.S. Envoy To Russia (Radio Free Europe)
- Policy Adviser Tapped to Become U.S. Ambassador to Russia (NY Times)
- Michael McFaul Biography (Carnegie Endowment)
- Amy Greene
(photo credit: Carnegie)