Obama Chooses Mike McFaul for Moscow Envoy Role

Isabel Gorst

Barack Obama has selected his top adviser on Russia as the new US ambassador to Moscow, signalling Washington’s determination to improve ties as the two countries move into an election year.

The US president plans to nominate Michael McFaul, the White House adviser on Russia policy, as his Russian ambassador, breaking the tradition of appointing career diplomats to the post.

Mr McFaul, a former Rhodes scholar and professor of political science at Stanford University, is an ardent supporter of Mr Obama’s campaign to mend US relations with Russia. The ties sank to the lowest levels since the cold war after the 2008 conflict in Georgia.

Mr Obama counts the so-called “reset” of US relations with Russia, including the negotiation of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, among the biggest foreign policy successes of his presidency. The two countries have also negotiated a new strategic nuclear arms reduction treaty and co-operated on Afghanistan and Iran.

However, the two sides are divided over US plans to deploy missile interceptors in central Europe that Russia sees as a threat to its security.

As adviser to Mr Obama on Russian affairs, Mr McFaul has called for the US and Russia to get out of “the zero-sum mindset” and leave behind the 19th-century notion of the Great Game in central Asia and the 20th-century construct of the cold war.

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