Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Russian Foreign Policy in the Putin Era

Russian Foreign Policy in the Putin Era

  • April 11, 2016

The 2016 Penn Slavic Symposium was a public event bringing together leading policy scholars on Russian foreign policy for a day-long discussion of key issues and challenges. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences, FPRI, Trans-Atlantic Academy, and the German Marshall Fund.

Click on the links below to listen to the audio from each panel. A video of the keynote address by Timothy Snyder is also provided.

Putin’s Grand Strategy and Objectives

Speakers: Jakub Grygiel, John E. Herbst, Marie Mendras, Charles Ryan. Moderator: Mitchell Orenstein, University of Pennsylvania

What are President Vladimir Putin’s objectives in foreign policy? What does he want? To what extent is he constrained by factions within his regime? And by the nature of the regime itself? Does Russia have a grand strategy in its foreign policy? What is it? How realistic is it? And does it pose a fundamental challenge to the West?

Unmasterable Pasts: History and Prophecy in Russian Strategy

Keynote Address: Timothy Snyder, Yale University

Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has caused a major shock to European politics.  What is the nature of the challenge Russia poses in Ukraine?  What are the elements of a peaceful resolution to the conflict?  And how likely are these to be achieved?

Russo-German Relations and the Future of Europe

Speakers: Andrew Moravcsik, Alina Polyakova, Ulrich Speck, Steve Szabo. Moderator: Kevin M. F. Platt, University of Pennsylvania

The crisis in Ukraine has thrust Russo-German relations to the center of the European agenda.  Germany has led the changing European approach to Russia, first embracing a modernization partnership with Russia and later becoming the chief advocate of a tough sanctions regime.  What caused Germany’s sudden shift?  Will they change again?  To what extent will Russo-German relations determine the future of Europe?

Russia’s Oil and Gas Politics: Leverage and Dependence

Speakers: Margarita Balmaceda, Agnia Grigas, John Haines, Rudra Sil. Moderator: Michael Horowitz, University of Pennsylvania

President Putin has made oil and gas a key element of Russia’s foreign policy influence. However, the recent collapse in the oil price has highlighted Russia’s resource dependence and lack of economic diversification. How does Russia attempt to use its oil, gas, and pipleline politics to influence the rest of the world? How successful has Russia been? And how will Russia react if these policies fail to reach their goals?

Containment and Beyond: Elements of a Western Russia Strategy

Speakers: Nelli Babayan, Adrian Basora, William Burke-White. Moderator: Mitchell Orenstein, University of Pennsylvania

The West has faced serious challenges managing a declining (to some) or resurgent (to others) Russia under President Putin. The sanctions policy seemed to represent a reversion to the policies of containment after years of engagement accompanied by many ups and downs. Will the era of containment last? What has been achieved and what lost? Has the West crafted an effective strategy towards Russia? What elements of the Western response need to be strengthened or revised going forward?

Related Program(s)

Eurasia Program

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Russian Foreign Policy in the Putin Era