America's new ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, didn't exactly get the warmest of welcomes.
Assuming his post in Moscow this week, McFaul announced on his Twitter account: This is going to be fun. But Moscow's response was quite the contrary.
Instead, Russia TV's Channel One criticized the new ambassador Wednesday, saying: The fact is that McFaul is not an expert on Russia, Channel One analyst Mikhail Leontev said. He is a specialist purely in the promotion of democracy.
McFaul is a longtime expert on U.S.-Russia relations, a Russia scholar from Stanford University and, as a senior White House official, assisted in the development of the Obama Administration's efforts to reset U.S-Russian relations, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But Leontev went further, questioning McFaul's previous work in Russia with the National Democratic Institute -- popularly known for its proximity to the U.S. intelligence services -- and suggested he had written hundreds of articles opposing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
The criticism couldn't be more inopportune, as relations between the United States and Russia continue to sour while the Kremlin deals with unrest ahead of March presidential elections. On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attacked the Obama administration's foreign policy on issues including Syria, Iran and foreign adoptions.
Leontev also brought up McFaul's 2001 book - An Unfinished Revolution in Russia. The political change from Gorbachev to Putin - and asked, Has Mr. McFaul arrived in Russia to work in the specialty? That is, finish the revolution?
U.S. State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland rejected the notion that the ambassador was there to promote a revolution.
As the Russian Federation knows very well ... he is one of the government's top experts on Russia, Nuland said. From our perspective this is a benefit, that he knows Russians of every political stripe.