Russia assails US ambassador

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Monday harshly criticized the U.S. ambassador for his remarks at a meeting with students, accusing him of breaking diplomatic etiquette and misrepresenting Moscow's foreign policy.

The ministry targeted Michael McFaul for saying that Russia had offered money to the leader of Kyrgyzstan for removing a U.S. base from its soil, saying his description of this and other issues was "deliberately distorted." The ministry also accused McFaul of misrepresenting Russia's stance on issues such as the Iranian nuclear standoff and North Korea's nuclear program.

"This isn't the first the time when statements and actions of Mr. McFaul are causing bewilderment," the ministry said.

Asked on his Twitter about the criticism, McFaul avoided responding directly, saying he is "still learning the craft of speaking more diplomatically."

The ministry's attack on McFaul follows negative coverage given to him by state-run television stations, which suggested his agenda is to support opposition leaders and promote a "revolution."

McFaul, a former Stanford University professor, has written extensively on fostering democracy. He is regarded as a leading experts on U.S. relations with Russia, and has played a key role in the Obama administration's efforts to "reset" ties with Moscow.

Earlier this year, McFaul was perplexed to see crews of a government-controlled TV station stalking his every move, voicing concern that his email and phone calls may be intercepted.

Monday's ministerial attack on McFaul follows a strong criticism of the U.S. by Vladimir Putin, who won a third presidential term in March's election. In the run-up to the vote, Putin accused the U.S. of backing massive protests against his 12-year rule.