After weeks of growing regional tensions as Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops next to Ukraine’s borders, on April 22, 2021, Russian defense officials ordered troops back to their bases, with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu commenting that the forces had “demonstrated their ability to provide a credible defense for the country.” What were the drivers behind this large Russian military build-up, and did they achieve their objectives? Did reactions by EU and US officials play a positive role in encouraging a de-escalation, or should we expect new tensions to arise over the course of the year? How have the Russian and Ukrainian publics reacted to the prospect of a renewed regional conflict?
Please join us as we examine these important questions surrounding the 2021 crisis, with leading security and political researchers from academia, think tanks and the policy world.
Timothy Frye, Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University; Director of the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow
Michael Kofman, Senior Research Scientist in the Russia Studies Program at CNA; Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC
Olga Oliker, Program Director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group in Brussels; Adjunct Professor of European and Eurasian Studies at SAIS Europe
Polina Sinovets, head of the Odessa Center for Nonproliferation (OdCNP) and Associate Professor in the International Relations Department at the Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University (ONU), Ukraine
Alexander Cooley, Director of the Harriman Institute, Columbia University
Joshua Tucker, Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, New York University
Timothy Frye is the Marshall D. Shulman Professor of Post-Soviet Foreign Policy at Columbia University and Director of the International Center for the Study of Institutions and Development at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He is the author of Brokers and Bureaucrats: Building Markets in Russia, which won the 2001 Hewett Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies; Building States and Markets after Communism: The Perils of Polarized Democracy, which won a Best Book Prize from the APSA Comparative Democratization section in 2010; and Property Rights and Property Wrongs: How Power, Institutions, and Norms Shape Economic Conflict in Russia (2017). His newest book is Weak Strongman: The Limits of Power in Putin’s Russia (Princeton University Press, April 2021).
Michael Kofman serves as a Senior Research Scientist in the Russia Studies Program at CNA and as a Fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, DC. His research focuses on Russia and the former Soviet Union, specializing in Russian armed forces, military thought, capabilities, and strategy. Previously, he served as a Program Manager and subject matter expert at National Defense University, advising senior military and government officials on issues in Russia and Eurasia. Kofman is also a Senior Editor at War on the Rocks, where he regularly authors articles on strategy, the Russian military, Russian decision-making, and related foreign policy issues. He runs a personal blog on the Russian armed forces. Kofman has published numerous articles on the Russian armed forces, security issues in Russia/Eurasia, and analyses for the US government.
Olga Oliker is Program Director for Europe and Central Asia at the International Crisis Group in Brussels. Oliker’s research interests center on the foreign and security policies of Russia, Ukraine, and the Central Asian and Caucasian successor states to the Soviet Union, domestic politics in these countries, U.S. policy towards the region, and nuclear weapon strategy and arms control. Prior to joining the International Crisis Group, Oliker directed the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and held various research and management roles at the RAND Corporation, including as Director of the Center for Russia and Eurasia. Early in her career, she served at the U.S. Department of Defense. She is an Adjunct Professor of European and Eurasian Studies at SAIS Europe and a member of the Deep Cuts Commission.
Polina Sinovets is the head of the Odessa Center for Nonproliferation (OdCNP) at the Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University (ONU), Ukraine. She is also Associate Professor in the International Relations Department at ONU. Previously, Sinovets served as senior research associate at Ukraine’s National Institute for Strategic Studies, as well as a fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and NATO Defense College. She is an expert in nuclear weapons policy and has published articles in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Russia in Global Politics, NATO Defense College Research Papers, and others.