Michael McFaul served as US Ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration from 2012 to 2014. Prior to that he served on the National Security Council where he helped shape was known at the time as the “Reset” with Russia.
He has a book coming out this spring, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russiawhich, among other things, discusses how his time in Russia and in the White House coincided with a worsening of relations between the United States and Russia–including how the reset went wrong. We discuss this at length, and also have a good conversation about how he first became interested in Russia as a high school student in Montana and how, during his frequent visits to Russia he became a pro-democracy activist, which caused many Russian officials to assume he was a CIA agent.
We spoke just about an hour after the International Olympic Committee announced that Russia would be banned from the 2018 winter games because of rampant doping. We kick off with a reaction to that news, which bleeds into a conversation about Putin’s general malfeasance.