December 18, 2011 in Nation/World

Expert on Russia is new ambassador

Jim Abrams Associated Press

(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Saturday confirmed Michael McFaul, President Barack Obama’s top adviser on Russia, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Moscow.

The voice vote to elevate McFaul to the ambassador’s post came on the last day the Senate is meeting this year after several months of delay.

McFaul is regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts on U.S. relations with Russia, and has been involved in the Obama administration’s efforts to restore shaky relations with the Moscow government.

That includes the signing of the New START treaty that set a ceiling of 1,550 strategic warheads in each country’s arsenal.

McFaul, who taught at Stanford University, was a campaign adviser to Obama on Russia and Eurasia before moving to the National Security Council.

Obama nominated McFaul to the post in September, but a Senate vote on his confirmation was held up by Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., over issues with U.S. policies toward Russia.

Kirk said he wanted written assurances that the United States will not provide Russia with any classified information on a missile defense system. The administration said it had no plans to provide Russia with such information.

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