Moscow does not have warm memories of Michael McFaul when he served as the US Ambassador to Russia. Mr. McFaul has been working as an expert on Russia for several years now. What he says about Russia from time to time can only prove that Moscow's memories are not going to get any warmer.
Not that long ago, Michael McFaul spoke at a virtual event dedicated to the relationship between the United States, Russia and China. He spoke, in particular, about the Russian military power and the political future of the country after Putin.
As for the modernization of arms in Russia, McFaul called it a frightening fact. In his opinion, some of the Russian arms systems are not covered by START III and this aspect of Russian power should not be underestimated.
According to Michael McFaul, Russia is in many ways ahead of the United States in terms of military technology. Putin, he believes, is investing fantastic amounts of money in modernising weapons.
"I think this is a scary fact that many people have not been paying attention to," he said. According to McFaul, "in certain dimensions, Russia is a global power in what China is not, first and foremost on nuclear weapons."
One may suggest that in this particular case Michael McFaul has taken on the role of a lobbyist for the American military-industrial complex, which, obviously, would not turn down "fantastic mounts of money" against the background of Russia's ongoing modernisation of arms systems, as the ambassador put it. It may appear so from a side, although the ex-ambassador may have set out his concerns at the call of his heart.
The ex-ambassador spoke not only about what scares him, but he also said a few words about the future of Russia, although vaguely. In his opinion, after Vladimir Putin leaves office as president, the appearance of a fundamentally new political system would be desirable.
"I don't know the future. But what is the more radical prediction? Is it that 20 years after Putin, the same political system will basically be in place? Or that 20 years after Putin's rule has ended something fundamentally new will replace it? I think that the first prediction is the radical prediction. The second one is a more expected prediction," said Michael McFaul.
The ex-US ambassador to the Russian Federation noted that after a long reign of one leader, there is usually a reaction.
"After Stalin, there was the anti-Stalinist movement under Khrushchev. After 20 years of Brezhnev, you got Mikhail Gorbachev. That was the reaction to 20 years of stagnation under Leonid Brezhnev. And Putin, of course, is a reaction to Yeltsinism," the ex-ambassador said.
McFaul's forecast is not something to remember for sure. Michael McFaul shares certain expectations, but he didn't say anything new at all.