New U.S. Ambassador to Russia: We Support ‘Universal Values’ Not ‘American Values’

January 24, 2012 - 8:02 PM

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U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The new U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said that in dealing with the former Soviet Union, he and the Obama administration would be advocating “universal values” and “not American values.”

McFaul was sworn in as ambassador to Russia by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Jan. 10. He made his remarks on Tuesday’s Morning Edition on NPR. The show’s host, David Greene, had asked McFaul about Russia’s “evolution towards demoracy,” and McFaul said “there is no single path to democracy” and that his job was to support universal values.

“And we -- as President Obama has said many, many times -- we’re not going to get into the business of dictating that path,” McFaul said. “We’re just going to support what we like to call ‘universal values’ – not American values, not Western values, universal values.”

Secretary Clinton said she was “thrilled” to make McFaul’s ambassadorship “official” at the swearing-in ceremony, where she touted his expertise as a Russian scholar and as senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs in the Obama administration's National Security Council. Clinton also spoke of values at the ceremony.

“Few Americans know Russia or know democracy better than Mike McFaul,” Clinton said. “And I can think of no better representative of our values and our interest in a strong, politically vibrant, open, democratic Russia, as well as a deepening U.S.-Russian partnership.”

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (AP Photo)

Clinton also mentioned McFaul’s love of pick-up basketball games and his membership in a band called “The Pigs.”

The NPR story also addressed claims in the Russian media that the United States is trying to influence Russia’s March elections and is supporting “anti-Putin” factions.

“We’re not supporting any particular political force or opposition leader,” McFaul said. “There’s been a lot of speculation about that here in the Russian press and that’s just absolute nonsense.

“We support a process,” McFaul said. “How they change, when they change, who gets elected president, who doesn’t get elected, that’s none of our business.”

“That’s for Russians to decide,” McFaul said.