Why, if Russia is in decline, does Putin seem to be trumping the West? How do the latest events in Ukraine, Syria/Iraq, and Paris change the state of affairs between the US and Russia? What is Putin thinking? To answer these questions, we are pleased to feature Stephen Kotkin, a critically acclaimed historian of the Soviet Union and Russia, whose latest book, Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928, is much more than a biography, as it places Stalin in a larger geopolitical context. And it is through that same lens of geopolitics that we have asked Kotkin to assess Vladimir Putin. His essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Washington Post, and the Financial Times. He serves as a consultant on emerging markets and global trends for the World Pension Forum. He received his Ph.D. in history from UC/Berkeley.