It was called the “End of History”, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. An event long hoped for in the West but that few expected to ever see. The United States, European Union and Canada all poured billions of dollars into Russia’s development. Russia was invited to join the G7 making it the G8 in 1998. Vladimir Putin became Russia’s Prime Minister in 1999 (the same year NATO expanded into the former East bloc) and its President in 2000.
In the 17 years he has been in power Putin has become more authoritarian, and in Russia at least, more popular. He described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical tragedy of the 20th century.” He hosted the lavish 2014 Sochi Olympics and then seized Crimea from Ukraine. Putin worked with the US to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and then sent his troops to help President Assad maintain grip on power. Now Russia, under Putin, is accused of using its “cyber-power” to undermine the 2016 US Presidential election.
Where is Putin leading Russia? Was the West suffering from post-Cold War naiveté or did it betray Russia by expanding NATO and reaching too far into former USSR territory, such as Ukraine?
To help answer these questions the CIC National Capital Branch is pleased to welcome Stephen Kotkin, a highly sought after Russian specialist: Professor in History and International Affairs at Princeton University, director of its Institute for International and Regional Studies and co-director of the Program in the History and Practice of Diplomacy. The New York Times said the just published second volume of his Stalin trilogy Stalin: Waiting for Hitler: “will surely stand for years to come as a seminal account of some of the most devastating events of the 20th century.”