Joined the social democratic movement in the 1900s. Expelled in 1902 from Petersburg University and exiled to Omsk, Siberia. Menshevik, 1903. Emigrated, lived in Switzerland in 1908.
Lived in England until 1917, studied the trade union movement. Returned to Russia in 1917, left the Menshevik Party in 1920. Diplomat from 1922. Ambassador to Finland, 1929-1932, Ambassador to Britain, 1932-1943.
Was very popular during World War II (nicknamed ‘pussy face’ Maiskii) Deputy Foreign Minister and head of the Allied reparations commission, 1943-1946. Took part in the Yalta and Potsdam conferences in 1945. Academician, 1946.