Though Russia is sometimes referred to as a ‘backwards nation’ in certain political and social circles, technologically speaking, the Government seems to have caught up with the times. At least when it comes to using twitter.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs took to twitter to lambast US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, for comments he made during a lecture at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
In his speech, McFaul mentioned Moscow’s bribing the Kyrgyz Government in order to evict U.S. forces from the Manas Air Base and a number of other “quid pro quo” deals on several important issues.
These comments are not necessarily false, but they are certainly revelations that Russia never expected a top diplomat to discuss anywhere but behind closed doors.
The Foreign Ministry took to twitter to express outrage about what they call a “meddling in their affairs” and released a statement saying that McFaul’s comments went “far beyond the boundaries of diplomatic etiquette and amounted to a deliberate distortion of several aspects of the Russian-American dialogue.”
Although McFaul is the main architect of the Obama Administration’s ‘reset policy’ with Russia, he is, as he himself admits, not exactly a seasoned diplomat. He too took to twitter to say that he is “still learning the craft of speaking more diplomatically.”
The U.S. State Department said it was surprised by the harsh Russian criticism and McFaul wrote on his LiveJournal blog that:
“As a proponent of better U.S.-Russian relations, I was surprised by the official reaction to my talk at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow…The central thesis of my presentation was how much U.S.-Russia officials have accomplished in the last 4 years with the ‘reset’ in our relations.”
A very honest response on McFaul’s part considering that he seems to be more comfortable with the role of professor and advisor than that of a ‘diplomat.’
Although the reset policy garnered much media attention both in Russia and the United States, it is important to consider that although the rhetoric is certainly more positive under the Obama Administration than that of George W. Bush, the actual policies have not changed all that much-if at all.
Add to that the fact that Russia’s own internal unrest has resulted in the Kremlin trying to take advantage of every misstep by the US and its officials in order to use it as a rallying cry against the United States specifically and the West in general.
And McFaul’s latest faux pas is no exception.