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Russian Relations with Central Asia and Afghanistan after U.S. Withdrawal

Join us for another virtual meeting of the New York-Russia Public Policy Seminar. This panel is co-hosted by Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and the New York University Jordan Center for...

Join us for another virtual meeting of the New York-Russia Public Policy Seminar. This panel is co-hosted by Columbia University’s Harriman Institute and the New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the dramatic collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul has ushered in another period of Taliban rule. Regional powers and neighbors have been anticipating the U.S. exit for some time: Russia remains a critical player in the region and, even before the U.S. withdrawal, had demonstrated a pragmatic approach to engaging with the Taliban. What is Moscow’s plan for dealing with the new Afghan government and what are its overall priorities in the region? How will this affect Russia’s relations with the Central Asian states and China? And are there any prospects for renewed cooperation between Moscow and Washington on counterterrorism issues in this period of uncertainty and potential instability? Please join this distinguished group of academic experts who will explore the new complex dynamics of a post-American Afghanistan and Central Asia.

This event is supported by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Watch the event recording on YouTube here



Ivan Safranchuk, Director of the Center of Euro-Asian Research and Senior Fellow with the Institute for International Studies, MGIMO
Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Central Asia, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
Artemy Kalinovsky, Professor of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Studies, Temple University
Ekaterina Stepanova, Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Unit, National Research Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO),

Moderated by:
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


Artemy Kalinovsky is Professor of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet Studies at Temple University. He earned his BA from the George Washington University and his MA and PhD from the London School of Economics, after which he spent a decade teaching at the University of Amsterdam. His first book was A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2011). His second book, Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan (Cornell University Press, 2018), won the Davis and Hewett prizes from the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. He is currently working on a project that studies the legacies of socialist development in contemporary Central Asia to examine entanglements between socialist and capitalist development approaches in the late 20th century.

Nargis Kassenova is Senior Fellow and director of the Program on Central Asia at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies (Harvard University) and Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations and Regional Studies of KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan). She is the former founder and director of the KIMEP Central Asian Studies Center (CASC) and the China and Central Asia Studies Center (CCASC). Kassenova holds a PhD in International Cooperation Studies from the Graduate School of International Development, Nagoya University (Japan). Her research focuses on Central Asian politics and security, Eurasian geopolitics, China’s Belt and Road Initiative and governance in Central Asia, and the history of state-making in Central Asia. Kassenova is a member of the Advisory Board of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) Eurasia Program, the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) Europe and Central Asia Division, the UN High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, the Advisory Group of the EU Central Asia Monitoring (EUCAM) program, and the Academic Council of the European Neighbourhood Council (ENC). She is on the editorial boards of Central Asian SurveyCentral Asian Affairs, and REGION: Regional Studies of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia journals.

Ivan Safranchuk is Director of the Center of Euro-Asian Research and Senior Fellow with the Institute for International Studies at MGIMO University (Moscow) and an Associate Professor at National Research University Higher School of Economics (Moscow). He is also a member of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and an expert of the Valdai Club. As visiting professor he has lectured at Yale University and Beijing University. Safranchuk previously worked at the PIR Center for Policy Studies (1997-2001), headed the Moscow Office of the Center for Defense Information (2001-2007), and served as deputy director at the Institute of Contemporary International Studies of the Russian Diplomatic Academy (2011-2014). From 2015 to 2017 he also served as an adviser to the President of the Diplomatic Academy of Kyrgyzstan under the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has published on international relations and security, U.S.-Russian relations, Central Asia and Afghanistan. Safranchuk recently published a journal article on Afghanistan’s political future for India Quarterly and “The Taliban Enigma and the Polycentric World” for Russia in Global Affairs.

Ekaterina Stepanova heads the Peace and Conflict Studies Unit and is a lead researcher at the National Research Institute of the World Economy & International Relations (IMEMO), Moscow.  Her publications in English on Afghanistan include ‘Russia and the search for a negotiated solution in Afghanistan’, Europe-Asia Studies (2021), and research reports Russia’s Afghan Policy in the Regional and Russia-West Contexts (Paris, 2018), Russia’s Concerns Relating to Afghanistan and the Broader Region in the Context of the US-NATO Withdrawal (Barcelona, 2013), The Afghan Narcotrafficking: A Joint Threat Assessment (New York, 2013), and Afghanistan After 2014: The Way Forward for Russia (Paris, 2013). Her books include ISIS and the Phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters in Syria and Iraq (IMEMO, 2020) and Terrorism in Asymmetrical Conflict (Oxford Univ. Press, 2008). She was a member of two joint US-Russia expert groups on counterterrorism in Afghanistan, 2017-20, and on the Afghan nacrotrafficking, 2011-15, and has participated in several Track 2 international consultations on Afghanistan. She serves as a contact point at IMEMO for the UN Counterterrorism Committee Executive Directorate’s Global Research Network and as a member of the expert panel of Global Peace Index. In 2007-09, she led Armed conflicts and conflict management program at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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