WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will nominate Michael McFaul, his top adviser on Russia policy, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Moscow, the White House said on Wednesday.
McFaul advised Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and was a leading architect of the "reset" of U.S. relations with Moscow, one of the president's top foreign policy initiatives since taking office.
He was also part of a team of top aides who helped craft the Obama administration's strategy for dealing with uprisings this year in the Middle East and North Africa.
As an expert on the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, he saw parallels between the fall of communism there in the 1990s and pro-democracy protest movements that have shaken Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain in recent months.
McFaul, 47, is the senior director for Russian and Eurasian affairs on the White House's National Security Council staff. He would replace John Beyrle, appointed in 2008 by former President George W. Bush, if he wins Senate confirmation.
McFaul played a role in helping to negotiate a new U.S-Russia nuclear arms reduction treaty and in completing a civilian nuclear cooperation deal during Obama's presidency after years of tension between the two former Cold War foes.
He is a former Stanford University professor and was a critic of Vladimir Putin's crackdown on dissent in Russia during his presidency. He has no diplomatic experience but has written several books and numerous papers about Russia.
Obama's plan to nominate McFaul was first confirmed by an administration official in late May and was formally announced on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Caren Bohan; Editing by Xavier Briand)