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Trials & Tribulations of US Ambassador McFaul in Moscow
February 5, 2014 11:38

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US ambassador to Moscow is leaving Russia, ending his five-year tenure with the Obama administration.
In his blog on LiveJournal, Michael McFaul said the aspiration to reunite with his family was the main reason behind his resignation.
McFaul, widely considered to be the architect of the reset in Russian-US relations, presents an honest overview of what he believes were his successes and failures.
“We signed and now are implementing the New Start Treaty. We worked closely with the Russian government to expand the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which has developed into a vital transit route for supplying our soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan and will now play an important role in withdrawing our military equipment from there. We established the Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC), which now has more than two dozen working groups between our governments to nurture cooperation on everything from agriculture to innovation,” says McFaul in his post.
An expert on Russian studies, he also mentions the role the US played in speeding up Russia’s accession into the World Trade Organization. As an example of improving economic ties, he cites trade growth from under $25 billion in 2009 to roughly $40 billion in 2013.
He hailed cooperation between the two presidents whose discussions on removing chemical weapons from Syria led to a breakthrough arrangement and helped avert a US strike.
McFaul is proud of a new visa regime, facilitating travel for tourists and businesspeople. Visa validity has been increased to three years. “Last year, we issued a quarter of a million non-immigrant visas to Russians --15 percent more than our previous record-breaking year,” he said.
Many analysts have called McFaul’s tenure in Moscow as rocky or turbulent. There’ve been many difficult issues between the two countries, he acknowledges, including “the Russian ban on adoptions by American parents, the Russian order to close the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operations in Russia, false claims in the Russian media about American desires to foment revolution in Russia and U.S. foreign policy aims in general, the growing pressures on Russian civil society and independent media, the granting of temporary asylum to Edward Snowden, and our different assessments of the causes and consequences of political change in the Middle East and Ukraine.”

However, “I leave Russia with a strong feeling of satisfaction”, he concludes. 

Author: Mikhail Vesely

Tags: US ambassador to Moscow Michael McFaul Russian-US relations   

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