President Barack Obama intends to nominate Michael McFaul to U.S. ambassador to Russia, the White House announced this week. McFaul currently serves as the president’s top adviser on Russia at the National Security Council.

McFaul has long been considered one of the country’s foremost experts on Russia and U.S.-Russia relations and was instrumental in creating the conditions for the signing of the New START treaty.

Prior to taking a post in the Obama administration, McFaul was an associate professor of political science at Stanford University and Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Hoover still considers McFaul a part of the think tank’s list of fellows, but “on leave,” according to the Hoover Web site.

The current U.S. Ambassador to Russia is John Beyrle, who has held the position since July 2008.