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Michael McFaul Dissects US-Russian Relations

July 3, 2014  • Jessica Puckett, Aspen Institute College Journalism Scholar

Former US Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul addressed diplomatic concerns between Russia and the US during the second half of the Aspen Ideas Festival. During the discussion, McFaul conveyed what factors he thought contributed to the nations’ tense relationship. While serving as ambassador, McFaul observed Putin’s foreign policy tendencies and motivations. He shared his theories about how the relationship deteriorated and if the countries are headed to another Cold War. Watch below.

It’s not about power. It’s about Putin

“Putin has a theory about America that we use our covert and sometimes overt force to overthrow regimes that we don’t like. And when he came to power, that was in the back of his head.”

NATO and Nazis: Did the West Push Putin into Action?

“A popular argument in Washington is that [the US’s strained relationship with Russia] is the result of western policies. … There’s no doubt that it created a narrative that was useful for Putin when he finally decided to go into Ukraine.”

The Dangerous Rise of Nationalism in Russia

“I worry about it more than any other time in the last 25 years. A surge of nationalism inside Russia is really, really dangerous. … What I am afraid of today is something new that has started as a result of this current crisis. They’re whipping up nationalistic fervor inside Russia right now. … I don’t remember a period of time when this nationalism was being stoked by the state-controlled Russian media [this much].”