US Ambassador to Russia once again faces Moscow’s scorn


From Nikolaus von Twickel, the Moscow Times: U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul found himself in hot water once again Tuesday, facing heavy criticism from the Kremlin and the Foreign Ministry over comments he made last week suggesting that Russia had “bribed” officials in Kyrgyzstan to pressure them to close a base used by U.S. forces.

The Foreign Ministry complained that the ambassador’s remarks went "far beyond the bounds of diplomatic etiquette and present a deliberate distortion" of the U.S.-Russian dialogue.

An “ambassador’s job, as we understand it, is to improve bilateral ties, not to spread blatant falsehoods through the media sphere,” the ministry said on its English-language Twitter feed late Monday.

President Vladimir Putin‘s foreign policy adviser Yury Ushakov followed up Tuesday by calling on McFaul to be more diplomatic.

“Ambassadors need to work on a positive agenda because there are already so many agents trying to ruin the atmosphere,” he told a news briefing, Interfax reported.

The Foreign Ministry said it was “utterly shocked” at McFaul’s remarks during a talk with students at the Higher School of Economics on Friday.

In the talk, a transcript of which was posted on the school’s website, McFaul suggested that Russia "bribed" Kyrgyzstan to close the Manas air base, which the United States has used since 2001 to support military operations in Afghanistan. . . .

“The fact that Russia bribed Kyrgyzstan was well known before. But it is probably just not the thing for an ambassador to say,” said Alexei Malashenko, a scholar with the Carnegie Moscow Center, where McFaul worked in the 1990s.  (photo: Maxim Stulov/Vedomosti)

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