Interfax: Outgoing U.S. ambassador shouldn’t have tried to build relations with Russian opposition – Duma deputy

Alexei Pushkov file photo

MOSCOW. Feb 5 (Interfax) – Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul made a mistake in trying to maintain contacts not only with Russian government institutions but also with the opposition, says Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian State Duma international affairs committee.

“I think the ambassador’s replacement is unlikely to have any impact on Russian-American relations. Surely, it happens sometimes that ambassadors make a special contribution to the development of relations, but we understand that an ambassador is a mouthpiece to promote the policy worked out in Moscow or in Washington and is not always in a position to change this policy. He is the state’s representative and pursues a policy determined by the state,” Pushkov said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Russian parliamentarian suggested that McFaul is leaving Russia ahead of his time and explained this by the fact that McFaul tried to build relations not only with government institutions but also with the opposition in Russia.

“An ambassador’s job is above all to arrange relations with government institutions and the leadership of the state where he has been dispatched to work. The concept that McFaul tried to put into practice is that he, on the one hand, should maintain relations with Russian government officials, and on the other, with opposition members. In my view, this is very risky for an ambassador, because in this case an ambassador acts not as a representative of his state in another state but as a public figure,” Pushkov said.

“An ambassador’s job is not to be an ambassador for the opposition but an ambassador for the state,” he said.

“I think this is a trap in which the American ambassador got when he tried to equally combine these two formats,” he said.

[featured image is file photo]