U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul: His tenure in Moscow, which

has been marked by a monumental series of setbacks for U.S. interests,

may soon be over - if the gossip sweeping the Kremlin holds true.



Moscow Tongues Wag Over 'Downfall' of U.S. Ambassador McFaul (Izvestia, Russia)


"During his tenure as ambassador he has achieved nothing, and the relationship between the countries has become much more complex: the Magnitsky List, the Dima Yakovlev Law, Georgia, North Korea, Iran, Syria. There have been many fundamental divergences of opinion. His resignation is an objective judgment by the American side; Russia requires a professional diplomat."


-- Igor Morozov, first deputy of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs


Translated By Rosamund Musgrave


November 12, 2013


Russia - Izvestia - Original Article (Russian)

The U.S. ambassador has denied to Izvestia rumors of his imminent resignation. Yet diplomatic circles don't rule out that he will announce his resignation at a reception in honor of the 80th anniversary of the establishment of relations between the USSR and United States.


November 16 will mark 80 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia (or more precisely the USSR) and the United States. According to information received by Izvestia, American Ambassador Michael McFaul will be invited to a reception at the Kremlin, although how senior the participants will be is not yet known. According to sources close to the Kremlin and Foreign Ministry, it is likely that McFaul's resignation will be discussed there, though only if he brings it up himself.


When asked by Izvestia whether it was true he plans to resign (as first reported by Gazeta on November 8, the ambassador answered tersely, "incorrect."


"To be frank, I am not expecting any information on this and I can neither confirm nor deny news of his resignation, as I have none on the matter," said Michael Chadwick, European Media Relations Officer for the U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center.


Those close to McFaul claim that information on his resignation is a provocation, the purpose of which is to push the ambassador to take that decision.


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Informed diplomatic sources do not rule out, however, that the plans of McFaul and the State Department for his immediate future don't fully coincide, so his resignation may yet occur.


"As far as we know, the U.S. State Department isn't satisfied that McFaul is capable of building the necessary relations with the Kremlin and the Russian Foreign Ministry. Having failed on Snowden, [the expulsion of] USAID, the "Magnitsky List" and the Dima Yakovlev Law, even some of the tamed opposition that backed him have given up. He has lost influence and in our country and is treated with apprehension," said a source close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.


Throughout McFaul's time in Russia, the U.S. has had to endure several failures. For instance, the Russian special services managed to persuade the nation's leaders of the subversive nature of the activities of the American development agency USAID. As Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said, "The work of agency representatives in our country are not always in keeping with its stated goals of promoting bilateral humanitarian cooperation. These include attempts to influence the political process, including elections at various levels, and the institutions of civil society, through the distribution of grants. Serious questions have been raised about USAID activities in Russian regions, particularly the North Caucasus, which we have repeatedly warned our American colleagues about."


As a result, since 2012, the American agency has ceased to exist in Russia.


McFaul's most serious failure is the scandal surrounding former CIA operative Edward Snowden. In early June, Snowden passed The Guardian and The Washington Post classified information concerning the mass surveillance by the U.S. intelligence services of the correspondence of citizens in many nations. As a result of this, Snowden has been charged in absentia with espionage. Snowden fled the United States, first to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he currently resides and lives.


"McFaul hasn't personally expressed a desire to resign, but he has been steered in that direction. It has been suggested to him that it would be best to do so voluntarily. The situation is complicated," says someone in the ambassador's entourage.


"On November 16th, it will be 80 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the USA and USSR - the legal predecessor to Russia. The ambassador must certainly keep his post until then. We know there will be a reception at the Kremlin, but this is preliminary information."



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Nevertheless, diplomats expect McFaul to say goodbye to his Russian counterparts at the Kremlin reception, even against his own wishes.


Yuri Rogulyev, director of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Foundation for United States Studies at Moscow State University, doubts McFaul will voluntarily leave his post.


"The information has certainly come out into the open, but the sources of this information remain unclear. The ambassador of the United States is appointed by the president, and these issues are handled by the State Department. I have no idea how Russian media could possibly be the source of this information," says Rogulyev.


"There may be several reasons for his resignation, but the importance of Edward Snowden cannot be underestimated. McFaul is not a career diplomat, having spent most of his life engaged in political science research and lecturing. Because of this, he made mistakes from the very beginning."


Among Ambassador McFaul's errors, experts point to a meeting held with the Russian opposition, which took place almost immediately after he took up his post, arousing the displeasure of Russian authorities. At the same time, during his time as head of the Embassy, McFaul was never able to establish his credibility the way his two predecessors William J. Burns and John Beyrle were able to do. Rogulyev says McFaul has behaved like a political strategist or a revolutionary rather than the subtle diplomat he should have been. Accordingly, the Kremlin doesn't take him seriously as a professional when it comes to international politics. Rogulyev also notes that McFaul was a theoretician of the Orange Revolution, which of course official Moscow greatly dislikes.




Director of the Strategic Studies Center Andrei Piontkovskiy tells Izvestia that, according to his information, McFaul will return to political science and lecturing:


"Information on his resignation is trustworthy. Several of my sources at Stanford University inform me that he is expected to take up a post as a university lecturer in the near future. As for the reasons for his departure from Russia, it is not worth looking for some specific reason such as the Snowden affair. McFaul was entrusted with a mission to "reset" relations with Russia. We can see that he failed to do so. Relations between the two countries have undergone no major changes, and in the United States, evidently, it has been decided that a new person is needed in the post."


First deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs Leonid Kalashnikov (Communist Party) has suggested that McFaul's departure from the Embassy could simply be due to an end to his term in office.


"The reason could be a change in workplace because his term has expired. He has already been in Russia for four years. I know him personally. As a politician, I really like him He has an excellent relationship with Russia. He differs from "serial" diplomats who close themselves off and never utter a superfluous word. His politics toward Russia have always been open."


Opposition politician Yevgeniya Chirikova, who took part in the infamous first meeting with Michael McFaul, believes his resignation may be associated with a step up the career ladder.


"It is possible that he has other career plans having nothing to do with Russia. In America, there are many people able to replace him - someone new could take over. I don't know McFaul very well personally, and he hasn't made any particular impression on me. I've met him twice. Other than the fact that he speaks Russian very well and is polite, I can't really say much about him. It's a myth that he is helping the Russian opposition. It's just that during meetings and so forth, he has to at times meet with other political forces," Chirikova told Izvestia.


Igor Morozov, first deputy of the State Duma Committee for International Affairs, believes that McFaul's diplomatic efforts have failed.


"During his tenure as ambassador he has achieved nothing, and the relationship between the countries has become much more complex: the Magnitsky List, the Dima Yakovlev Law, Georgia, North Korea, Iran, Syria. There have been many fundamental divergences of opinion. His resignation is an objective judgment by the American side; Russia requires a professional diplomat."

Posted By Worldmeets.US



The anticipated announcement of his resignation may coincide with several significant dates in Russian-American relations. November 16,  the day 80 years of diplomatic relations will be celebrated, it will also be a year since the Magnitsky Act was passed by the U.S. Congress.


Ambassador McFaul has a solid reputation as a Russian specialist. While an undergraduate at Stanford University, the future ambassador twice held internships in the USSR, and then in the early 1990s, he worked in the Carnegie Center in Moscow. Later he visited Russia several times and was senior director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council. In May 2011, President Obama approved his candidacy for the post of U.S. Ambassador to Russia.


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Posted By Worldmeets.US Nov. 12, 2013, 5:59pm