Former US ambassador: Russians now think Clinton will win

Former US ambassador: Russians now think Clinton will win
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Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul on Tuesday said it seems Russia now believes that Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat MORE is likely to win the presidency.

"I am totally convinced that the Russians now have made an assessment that Secretary Clinton is likely to win," McFaul told The Hill in a phone interview. 

"I think they have — you know, are resigned to the fact that they are going to have to start dealing with President-elect Clinton," said McFaul, who served as ambassador from 2012 to 2014. 

McFaul said he is basing his belief off of "anecdotal" evidence, namely conversations that he's had, including "both with Russian officials and other intermediaries." 

Therefore, McFaul said he does not predict a lot of Russian "machinations" on Election Day, despite U.S. concerns that Russia will try to hack into voting systems.

The former ambassador, who is now a professor at Stanford University, said Russia's interference in the election is "unprecedented."  

He said hacking into emails is not new, but providing them to WikiLeaks in an attempt to skew the election is a first. 

"I think it's backfired, by the way. I don't think it's achieved the intention of WikiLeaks and Russia, at this stage," he added. 

Russian actors are believed to have stolen documents and emails from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, which have been published online by the anti-secrecy organization.

McFaul said Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE to win, since they support many of the same policies.

For instance, Trump has said he would look into recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, McFaul said, and Trump has also talked about renegotiating the U.S. relationship with its European allies.

Trump has also "made very clear" that he doesn't want to talk about democracy and human rights, McFaul said. 

"That's music to Putin's ears," he said.  

McFaul said it's not only that Putin wants Trump to win, but that he also doesn't want Clinton to win, since she has advocated policies that are the "opposite" of Trump's. 

"They know her well ... and she's going to be a tough interlocutor, but she's going to be an interlocutor. She's not going to say, 'Let's call Russia the evil empire and stop talking to them,'" McFaul said. 

"I already see tidbits that they're beginning to move towards that realization that on Jan. 21, she's the likely person they're going to have to deal with, and there's very little they can do to change that outcome," he said.