Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES


State-owned media in Moscow are reacting warmly to the news that President Obama plans to appoint his top adviser on Russia as the next U.S. ambassador to the Kremlin.

Michael McFaul, the Russia specialist on the National Security Council, was a top political adviser to Mr. Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign. He also is widely credited with the so-called reset of U.S.-Russian relations, which some conservatives fear signals a softer approach to Moscow on issues ranging from national security to human rights.

McFaul is a young man, very close to Obama and a devoted supporter of his policy, Alexander Konovalov of Moscow's Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis told Rianovosti, an official Russian news agency.

Since McFaul is a person from the presidential staff, his appointment would show that Washington pays special attention to Russian politics.

Rianovosti commentator Dmitry Babich added that Mr. McFaul, 47, is not a career diplomat, but a former Stanford University political science professor and expert on Russia. He added that Mr. McFaul is noted for proposing creative solutions to U.S.-Russia problems.

Creative solutions are what U.S.-Russian relations have lacked over the past 10 or 15 years, Mr. Babich wrote. If the new U.S. ambassador offers them, his mission to Moscow will be an undeniable success.

Other observers have been wary of Mr. McFaul's new approach to Moscow since Mr. Obama named him as his chief adviser on Russia.

Human rights activist Oleg Kozlovsky criticized Mr. McFaul for adopting the approach of many Realpolitik-infected diplomats, who call on the West to turn a blind eye on Russia slipping down to dictatorship.

In an October 2009 interview with the newspaper Kommersant, Mr. McFaul described talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladislav Surkov , that included Mr. Obama's new approach to Russia.

Asked about Mr. Obama's views on human rights there, Mr. …