Jonathan Haslam to Lecture on Vladimir Putin and Post-Soviet Russia

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Jonathan Haslam, George F. Kennan Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, will give a public lecture, “Do We Understand Putin’s Russia?,” on Friday, October 30, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall on the Institute campus.

In this lecture, Haslam will discuss post-Soviet Russia and the challenges encountered after a great power loses its empire. Haslam will explore how Putin’s leadership and influence has impacted international affairs and foreign policy efforts.

“We should not assume that making sense of post-Soviet Russia was ever going to be easy,” said Jonathan Haslam. “Great Powers that lose empires bear grudges and the speed with which this empire was lost exacerbates the problem. No one can expect that a powerful country run by a former secret policeman is going to operate by rules of the game to which we are accustomed. What may seem sensible or rational to ourselves is irrelevant. So what is Putin up to and why?”

Haslam is a leading scholar on the history of thought in international relations and the Soviet Union whose work builds a bridge between historical studies and the understanding of contemporary phenomena through critical examinations of the role of ideology. His studies of Soviet foreign policy are expansive in their quality and range, demonstrating his keen originality of thought, supported by insightful and comprehensive archival research.

Haslam is the author of many books, including Soviet Foreign Policy, 1930–1933: The Impact of the Depression (1983), The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security in Europe, 1933–1939 (1984), The Soviet Union and the Politics of Nuclear Weapons in Europe, 1969–1987 (1990), and The Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933–1941 (1992), which offer intensive explorations and interpretations of Soviet international relations and foreign policy in the context of economic, military, and political developments in Europe, Asia and North America. Most recently, Haslam authored Near and Distant Neighbors: A New History of Soviet Intelligence (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015), which charts the labyrinthine story of Soviet intelligence from the October Revolution to the end of the Cold War.

Haslam earned a B.Sc. (Econ.) in International Relations from the London School of Economics in 1972, an M. Litt. in the History of International Relations from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1978 and a Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham in 1984. From 1988–91, Haslam was a Senior Research Fellow in Politics at Kings College, Cambridge, and then served as Assistant Director of Studies in International Relations (Russia and Eastern Europe) at the University of Cambridge from 1991–2000. He was then a Reader in the History of International Relations until 2004, at which point he was named Professor of the History of International Relations. Haslam has also held academic positions and visiting professorships at several institutions including Birmingham University, University of California, Berkeley, Harvard, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and Yale. Haslam was a Member (1998­–99) in the School of Historical Studies before joining the Faculty in 2015.

This lecture is free and open to the public. For more information on other lectures at the Institute, visit