McFaul wrote in his blog that he will depart Russia "reluctantly" after five years as ambassador. Though his departure will be "hard, really hard," he "also will leave with a feeling of accomplishment."
Responsible for carrying through with the "reset" of American relations with Russia, McFaul was credited by Secretary of State John Kerry for working "creatively and tenaciously to enlist Moscow to act not just as a great power but also as a global partner."
"From the New START Treaty to securing Russian cooperation on Iran’s nuclear program, to resupplying our troops in Afghanistan and expanding our trade, there’s scarcely an issue in our bilateral agenda that didn’t benefit from Mike’s steady hand and good old fashioned willpower."
McFaul championed independent media and used social media as a diplomatic messaging platform, writing and tweeting in both English and Russian. On Tuesday, he took to his regular communication forum to announce his departure.
In his blog, McFaul cited family reasons for his decision to step down. Upon departing Russia, he plans to return to California. "We tried to make a 9,000 kilometer commute work for our family. But after seven months of separation, I simply need to be with my family again," he wrote. McFaul's wife and two sons returned to California last summer to allow his oldest son to complete high school in America. "We all agreed that it was in his best interest to return, and that decision turned out to be the right one."
The ambassador will resume a position at Stanford University, where he worked prior to joining the Obama administration in 2009.
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