|7th United States Ambassador to Russia|
January 10, 2012 – February 26, 2014
|Preceded by||John Beyrle|
|Succeeded by||John F. Tefft|
Michael Anthony McFaul
October 1, 1963
Glasgow, Montana, U.S.
|Education||Stanford University (BA, MA)|
St John's College, Oxford (DPhil)
Michael Anthony McFaul (born October 1, 1963) is an American academic and diplomat who served as the United States Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. McFaul is currently the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor in International Studies in the Department of Political Science at Stanford University, where he is the Director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He is also a Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is also a contributing columnist at The Washington Post. Prior to his nomination to the ambassadorial position, McFaul worked for the U.S. National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and senior director of Russian and Eurasian affairs. In that capacity, he was the architect of U.S. President Barack Obama's Russian reset policy.
Early life and education
Born in Glasgow, Montana, McFaul was raised in Butte and Bozeman, where his father worked as a musician and music teacher. While attending Bozeman High School, McFaul participated in policy debate; his partner was current U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R) of Montana.
While an undergraduate at Stanford University he spent time in the Soviet Union, first in the summer of 1983 studying Russian at the Leningrad State University (now Saint Petersburg State University), and then a semester in 1985 at Pushkin Institute in Moscow. He earned a B.A. in international relations and Slavic languages and an M.A. in Slavic and East European Studies from Stanford in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he earned a DPhil in international relations from St John's College, Oxford, in 1991. He wrote his dissertation on U.S. and Soviet intervention in revolutionary movements in southern Africa.
McFaul's past engagement with Russian political figures included a denunciation of him in 1994 by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and a member of the State Duma (the Russian parliament), and a subsequent shooting incident in which a shot was fired into McFaul's office window in Moscow. Two years later, Alexander Korzhakov, a confidante of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, invited McFaul to the Kremlin during the 1996 Russian presidential election, because of McFaul's research on electoral politics.[unreliable source?]
In his capacity as a professor of political science at Stanford University, McFaul was the director of the university's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. A Hoover Institution Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, McFaul is a Democrat who was the architect of U.S. President Barack Obama's policy on Russia. In a 2012 interview for the news portal Slon.ru, McFaul described himself as "specialist on democracy, anti-dictator movements, revolutions".
In 2009, McFaul joined the Barack Obama administration as a senior adviser in Washington, D.C., where he was the architect of the so-called "Russian reset" policy. In 2011, Obama nominated McFaul to be the 7th post-Soviet United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation. On December 17, 2011, the United States Senate confirmed McFaul by unanimous consent. McFaul became the first non-career diplomat to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He arrived in Russia just as massive protests were erupting over Vladimir Putin's resumption of the presidency. As ambassador he was often controversial, meeting with Russian pro-democracy activists and commenting frequently on Twitter in English and Russian. In his Washington post article though he argued that these meetings were in line with Obama's policy.
McFaul announced his resignation as ambassador to Russia on February 4, 2014, effective after the Sochi Olympics. In a blog post, he expressed his gratitude for the job and his sorrow at leaving Moscow, but explained that originally he had planned to spend only two years in the Obama administration, and after five years, his family desperately wanted to return to life in California. John F. Tefft was confirmed as the next ambassador to Russia.
McFaul returned to Stanford as a professor of political science. He also became a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He continued to be involved in geopolitics. In October 2014, he stated that he believed the Russians continued to bug his and his wife's cell phones in the United States. He is currently on the Kremlin's sanction list of people who are not allowed to enter Russia.
He traveled to Geneva, Switzerland in June 2021 for the summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin, the first meeting of the men since their initial meeting in March 2011, which McFaul attended in his official White House capacity. Biden characterized the meeting in his memoir as "argumentative."
Russian opposition visit
On January 17, 2012, soon after McFaul was appointed the new United States Ambassador to Russia and arrived in Moscow to assume his post, a number of organizers and prominent participants of the 2011 Russian protests, as well as some prominent figures of the Russian opposition parties, visited the Embassy of the United States in Moscow. On the entrance to the embassy, they were encountered by TV journalists who asked them why they were visiting the new Ambassador. On the video later released on YouTube and titled "Получение инструкций в посольстве США" (Receiving instructions in the Embassy of the United States), opposition activists appear flustered by the unexpected media attention. Later, when upon leaving the embassy and once again being encircled by journalists, the activists responded by declaring the journalists spreaders of "Surkovian propaganda" and made no other statement. The visitors to Michael McFaul included Yevgeniya Chirikova (member of Strategy-31 and Khimki forest activist leader), Boris Nemtsov (leader of the People's Freedom Party at the time; assassinated in 2015), Lev Ponomarev (human rights activist of the Moscow Helsinki Group), Sergey Mitrokhin (leader of Yabloko party), Oksana Dmitriyeva (deputy head of A Just Russia), Lilia Shibanova (head of the GOLOS Association elections monitor group). Leonid Kalashnikov from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation also attended. Two weeks later, journalist Olga Romanova who managed the financial spending of the December protests, also visited the American Embassy. She said that they discussed Russian protests and the United States Presidential election campaign with McFaul.
Reaction to the incident was mixed: President Dmitry Medvedev, in his public comments at Moscow State University, largely exonerated McFaul by saying that meeting with opposition figures was a routine occurrence, although he warned the new U.S. ambassador that he was on Russian soil and should respect Russian political sensibilities. The incident sparked a highly negative reaction in the state-controlled Russian media, which accused him of conspiring with the opposition. But an article in The Daily Beast wrote that McFaul's stance won plaudits from pro-democracy activists and Web-savvy Russian youth and that, "in the tight-knit world of Moscow’s opposition, McFaul has become something of an Internet celebrity, making him a true 21st-century diplomat."
Russian request for an interview
On July 17, 2018, the Prosecutor General of Russia announced that it was seeking to question McFaul, amongst other Americans, in relation to its investigation of allegations made against Bill Browder. This followed a request Vladimir Putin made to President Donald Trump during the summit in Helsinki. In a White House news conference two days later, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump described Putin's suggestion as an "interesting idea", but neither rejected it out of hand nor made a firm commitment. On July 19, shortly before the Senate was to vote on a resolution opposing the idea, Sanders stated that Trump "disagrees" with the Putin proposal. The Senate approved the non-binding "sense of the Senate" resolution on a 98–0 vote; it stated that no current or former diplomat or other government employee should be made available to the Russians for interrogation.
After the 2016 election, he became a regular commentator on MSNBC and social media, and has frequently been critical of the policies and actions of President Donald Trump with regard to Russia. McFaul supported the Iran nuclear deal. In July 2019, McFaul wrote that Communist Party of China's officials "champion the advantages of their system — an ability to undertake massive infrastructure projects, the capacity to manage income inequalities and a commitment to harmony in government and society. In contrast, polarized U.S. politics in the Trump era seem to impede any major initiative, be it infrastructure development or addressing income inequality."
Coit D. Blacker called McFaul "the leading scholar of his generation, maybe the leading scholar, on post-Communist Russia" and a Stanford news release said his knowledge of Russia "was an important resource to politicians. He advised President George W. Bush on his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin".
An article in Russia Profile called McFaul one of the leading U.S. experts in democracy and democratic transitions. An article in The Daily Beast described McFaul as "an earnest Stanford academic".
- Post-communist Politics: Democratic Prospects In Russia And Eastern Europe (1993)
- The Troubled Birth of Russian Democracy: Parties, Personalities, and Programs (1993)
- Understanding Russia's 1993 Parliamentary Elections: Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy (1995)
- Russia's 1996 Presidential Election: The End of Polarized Politics (1997)
- Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin (2001)
- Between Dictatorship and Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform (2010)
- Russia's Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin (2015)
- From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin's Russia (2018)
McFaul and his wife, Donna Norton, married in 1993 and have two sons, Cole and Luke.
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- "Michael McFaul | Political Science". politicalscience.stanford.edu.
- "Michael McFaul". Hoover Institution.
- "Michael McFaul's Profile | Stanford Profiles". profiles.stanford.edu.
- "Michael A. McFaul". cddrl.fsi.stanford.edu.
- "Michael McFaul". Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- Ioffe, Julia (May 30, 2012). "The Undiplomat". Foreign Policy. Archived from the original on June 5, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
- "Montanan who became ambassador to Russia to receive MSU honorary doctorate". montana.edu. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
- Kendall, Lewis. "Speaker charges MSU's graduating class with making world a better place". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
- Meredith Alexander (November 27, 2001). "Stanford political scientist Michael McFaul takes a revolutionary new look at Russian politics" (Press release). Stanford University. Archived from the original on July 27, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
- Baker, Peter (May 29, 2011). "Policy Adviser to Become U.S. Ambassador to Russia". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 29, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
- Аналитическая программа "Однако" с Михаилом Леонтьевым (in Russian). Channel One. January 17, 2012. Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 27, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Tolan, Casey (September 9, 2017). "Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, finds new voice criticizing Trump". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- http://www.facebook.com/amb.mcfaul. "Putin needed an American enemy. He picked me". Washington Post. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- "The smear that killed the 'reset'" (in Spanish). Retrieved June 11, 2021.
- McFaul, Michael (February 4, 2014). "It's time, my friend, it's time". Russia Beyond The Headlines. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
- Andrew Roth (February 4, 2014). "U.S. Ambassador to Russia Resigns". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Andrew Siddons (August 1, 2014). "Ambassador to Russia Is Confirmed". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 2, 2014. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
- Tamkin, Emily (July 28, 2016). "We Do Not Get to Blame Putin for This American Election". New America (organization). Retrieved July 31, 2016.
Michael McFaul, former ambassador to Russia, tweeted, in the wake of the email leak, that he wanted Russia to stop meddling in U.S. elections.
- Baker, Peter (October 31, 2014). "Former U.S. Envoy to Moscow Says Russians Are Still Spying on Him". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
- "Understanding Putin's Playbook In A Biden Presidency". www.wbur.org. June 14, 2021.
- Steinhauer, Jennifer; Crowley, Michael (December 15, 2020). "Biden to Face a Confrontational Russia in a World Changed From His Time in Office". The New York Times.
- Получение инструкций в посольстве США [Receiving instructions at the US Embassy]. Vzglyad (in Russian). January 17, 2012. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- Получение инструкций в посольстве США[better source needed]
- "Opposition Leaders Brief McFaul". The Moscow Times. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
- Романова: С Макфолом обсудили «бунты рассерженных горожан» [Romanova: McFaul explained "riots by disgruntled citizens"]. Vzglyad (in Russian). January 30, 2012. Archived from the original on February 2, 2012. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: United States Looms Large in Russian Elections Archived May 8, 2014, at the Wayback Machine russiaprofile.org
- Nemtsova, Anna (June 18, 2012). "Michael McFaul: America's Man In Russia". The Daily Beast, via Wayback Machine. Archived from the original on August 31, 2012.
- "Russian Prosecutors Seek Ex-U.S. Ambassador McFaul for Questioning in Browder Case". The Moscow Times. July 8, 2018.
On Tuesday, Russia's Prosecutor General’s Office said it seeks to question 11 U.S. intelligence officers, businessmen and diplomats, including former U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul.
- "В России готовы предъявить обвинения сотрудникам спецслужб США по делу Браудера" (in Russian). Russian News Agency TASS. July 17, 2018. Archived from the original on July 17, 2018.
- Thomsen, Jacqueline (July 18, 2018). "White House: Trump open to Russia questioning US citizens". Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- Stokols, Eli (July 19, 2018). "Trump invites Putin to Washington, rejects his request to interrogate former Ambassador Michael McFaul". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
- "Senate votes 98-0 to reject Putin proposal to send ex-US ambassador back to Russia". CNN. July 19, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
- "Leaving the Iran deal would play right into Putin's hands, says a former US ambassador to Russia". Quartz. May 7, 2018.
- "China is winning the ideological battle with the U.S." The Washington Post. July 23, 2019.
- McFaul, Michael A. (March 23, 2014). "Confronting Putin's Russia". International New York Times. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- "Nomination As Ambassador to the Russian Federation". U.S. Department of State. October 12, 2011. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
- Michael McFaul and Kathryn Stoner (2008), "The Myth of the Authoritarian Model", Foreign Affairs, January–February 2008, pp. 68–84.
- Michael McFaul (2018), "Russia as It Is: A Grand Strategy for Confronting Putin", July–August 2018.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michael McFaul.|
- Personal Website
- Biography at Stanford University Department of Political Science
- Biography at Stanford Center for Democracy Development and the Rule of Law
- Biography at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- Overview of the Michael McFaul collection at the Hoover Institution Archives
- McFaul's proposal for a "third way" solution on what to do about Iran in the Boston Review
- American Efforts at Promoting Regime Change in the Soviet Union and then Russia: Lessons Learned by Michael McFaul
- Transitions from Post Communism
- Michael McFaul on Twitter
- Michael McFaul at LiveJournal
- Appearances on C-SPAN