Tags: Barack Obama | Russia | michael mcfaul | russia | sanctions | vladimir putin | barack obama

Michael McFaul: 'Somewhat Surprised' Putin Let Diplomats Stay

(MSNBC)

By    |   Friday, 30 Dec 2016 12:59 PM

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Friday he's "somewhat surprised" that Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't ordered American diplomats out of his country following President Barack Obama's sanctions order.

"There were even rumors last night, by the way, that they were going to close the Anglo-American School, and that would have been horrific for all of the families who work at the embassy and other embassies," McFaul, now an MSNBC correspondent, said on the network's "Morning Joe" program.

"But yeah, he's decided he's going to try to work with President-elect Trump and why not? I mean, given what Trump has said about his desire to have a closer relation with Russia, I, too, would do the same thing if I were Vladimir Putin."

In a press release on Friday, Putin commented he would not create problems for American diplomats in his country, and further, he would "plan further steps for restoring the Russian-American relationship based on the policies enacted by the administration of President Donald Trump," reports The Washington Post

McFaul said he is glad that Obama, who he served under as an ambassador from 2012 to 2014, took a detailed reaction, and it should "put to bed forever any debate about whether the Russians meddled in our election or not. The attribution, I think, was very clear. That's important before there's a transition of administrations."

Also, he pointed out that there were two sets of sanctions, one for hacking and the others about "harassment of our diplomats in Russia," and McFaul said he would have gone even further.

"I hope that this won't be the end of the debate," he said. "I hope there will be an independent bipartisan commission to look into it further. So that we know more of the details. With respect to the harassment of our diplomats, I think the response was rather aggressive and appropriate."

McFaul himself landed on a sanctions list while he was ambassador after the Obama administration enacted sanctions over intervention in eastern Ukraine.

"That is the normal tit-for-tat that one expects in these kinds of sanctions," McFaul said. "That's what's striking about what president Putin did today, "

McFaul said he did live through harassment as a diplomat, as did his family and other diplomats working for him.

"It's little things like, you know, slashing tires, breaking into apartments, and moving things around," he said, and then it moves on to physical harassment including the brutal attack of one of Russia's diplomats recently.

"You can see it, the video exists, by the Russian police," McFaul said. "They were believing that he was an intelligence officer coming back to the embassy, allegedly, coming back after some kind of operation."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was preparing an expulsion list Thursday, said McFaul, but Putin ended up backing off the plan.

Meanwhile, after Putin returned as president in 2012, things changed in Russia, McFaul explained, as he had a different view of the United States, and "revolution started happening."

"Political mobilization started happened around the world, first in the Middle East, then in Russia in December 2011," McFaul said, and later in Ukraine in the fall of 2013. And Putin blamed us, and blamed Obama for those popular demonstrations. That's why the reset ended."

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Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Friday he's "somewhat surprised" that Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't ordered American diplomats out of his country following President Barack Obama's sanctions order.
michael mcfaul, russia, sanctions, vladimir putin, barack obama
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2016-59-30
Friday, 30 Dec 2016 12:59 PM
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