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Stanford's Michael McFaul nominated as new ambassador to Russia

Pete Souza Michael McFaul in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama

Michael McFaul in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama as he speaks on the phone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Feb. 24, 2010.

Michael McFaul, a Stanford political science professor, senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Hoover Institution Bing Senior Fellow, has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the next ambassador to Russia.  McFaul, who has also served as FSI's deputy director and director of its Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, will succeed John Beyrle.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, McFaul has been the special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Security Council.

McFaul served as senior adviser on Russia and Eurasia to Obama during the presidential campaign and continued to advise on foreign policy issues during the transition.

The Obama administration has achieved new momentum in relations with Russia with McFaul's active involvement. The two countries have signed the New Start arms control treaty, which calls for significant cuts in nuclear arsenals; finalized a civilian nuclear cooperation pact; forged agreement on tougher sanctions on Iran; and expanded the supply route to Afghanistan through the territory of the former Soviet Union. The two powers now turn to the efforts to forge cooperation on missile defense in Europe and to gain Russia's admission to the World Trade Organization, as well as the challenges posed by Iran and Libya.

"President Obama was fortunate to have the benefit of Mike's counsel from the White House on a range of vital issues – dealing with Russia, the uprisings of the Arab Spring and transitions to democracy," said Coit D. Blacker, the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. "In addition to Mike's expertise on Russia, he is one of the country's leading scholars on democracy and comparative democratic transitions and consolidations.

"Now, from Mike's new posting in Moscow, the president can call on Mike's expertise and experience in the region to build more constructive relationships with Russia, Eurasia and our allies across a broad strategic front."

McFaul is an expert on U.S. foreign policy, U.S.-Russian relations, political and economic reform in the post-communist world, and democracy promotion. He is the author and editor of more than 20 books, including the recent Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should and How We Can.

McFaul is a non-resident senior associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He also has served on numerous editorial boards, including Current History, Journal of Democracy, Demokratizatsiya, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Post Soviet Affairs and Washington Quarterly. He has served as a consultant for numerous companies and government agencies.

McFaul received a BA in international relations and Slavic languages and an MA in Slavic and East European studies from Stanford University in 1986. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he completed his PhD in international relations in 1991.

Media Contact

Coit D. Blacker, director, FSI: (650) 725-5368

Judith Paulus, media relations, FSI: (650) 723-8490, jpaulus@stanford.edu