AP source: Obama picks new US ambassador to Russia

May 29, 2011 - 9:57 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is nominating his top Russia adviser as the next U.S. ambassador to that country.

A senior administration official confirmed the choice of Michael McFaul. That would be a departure from standard practice because McFaul is not a career diplomat.

The administration official spoke on condition of anonymity to speak ahead of a formal announcement. The choice was first reported by The New York Times.

McFaul is a trusted policy adviser who has worked with Obama to achieve a "reset" of the U.S.-Russia relationship, including the signing of the New START treaty to reduce strategic warheads.

Among the challenges to the U.S.-Russia relationship are an American plan for missile defense and changes that might stem from the upcoming presidential elections in Russia.