US & World

US ambassador to Russia will resign after Olympics, return to California

Michael A. McFaul.
Michael A. McFaul.
/U.S. Embassy in Moscow

The United States ambassador to Russia says he will leave his post after the conclusion of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation Michael McFaul led the Obama administration's so-called "reset" of diplomatic relations with the country over the past five years. As The New York Times reports, McFaul was the top diplomat in the country during "a stormy period in Moscow in which he was criticized by pro-government media for meeting with opposition politicians."

In a statement issued Tuesday by the U.S. embassy in Moscow, McFaul said he is leaving his post to reunite with his family in California.

McFaul said it plainly on Twitter:

"After 7 months of separation, I simply need to be with my family. A 9,000 km commute just doesn't work."

In a statement to the Times, Ben Rhodes, the director for strategic communications at the National Security Council, highlighted McFaul's contribution to human rights.

"Mike has been tireless in advocating for the universal values that America stands for around the world, reaching out to civil society, and recognizing the right of every voice to be heard," Rhodes told the paper.

More on the upcoming Sochi olympics from NPR's Tamara Keith, speaking with KPCC:

NPR's Tamara Keith interview