McFaul: Post-Cold War era has ended in Europe


Former United States Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul says the post-Cold War era has ended in Europe as a result of Russia’s unanticipated aggression.

The new era is defined by “ideological clashes, nationalistic resurgence and territorial occupation,” he wrote in an op-ed published Monday in The New York Times

McFaul, who recently stepped down from his diplomatic post, wrote that the U.S. didn’t foresee the confrontation Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated with the West.

“We did not seek this confrontation. This new era crept up on us, because we did not fully win the Cold War,” McFaul said. “But the collapse of the Soviet order did not lead smoothly to a transition to democracy and markets inside Russia, or Russia’s integration into the West.” 

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea last week, McFaul said that Putin has “made a strategic pivot.”

The Obama administration should respond to Putin’s “autocracy,” McFaul said, with a “policy of selective containment and engagement.” 

McFaul noted that the period of engagement when Dmitri Medvedev was president was successful as the U.S. hit the “reset” button. When Putin returned as president in 2012, McFaul noticed the “momentum slowed.” 

To defend Eastern Europe against Russia, the West must support Ukraine’s democracy and bolster nations that might be vulnerable to Russian take-over, the former ambassador said. 

“NATO has moved quickly already, but these efforts must be sustained through greater placement of military hardware in the front-line states, more training and integration of forces, and new efforts to reduce NATO countries’ dependence on Russian energy,” he wrote.

On Sunday, White House deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said the administration is reviewing all of Ukraine’s requests, including providing military aid.

McFaul is now a Hoover fellow at Stanford University. He served five years in the administration, which included serving as special assistant to President Obama at the National Security Council.