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On November 14th, 2019, the UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Celeste Wallander, president and CEO of the U.S.-Russia Foundation and former senior director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council in the Obama administration. Dr. Wallander’s visit to UNC included a meet and greet with graduate students and a public talk on “Putin’s Gamble: US-Russia Relations in an Era of Global Change” in the Krasno Distinguished Speaker Series.

At her meeting with M.A. and Ph.D. students who specialize in Russia in their respective fields of political science, economics, history, music, and global studies, Dr. Wallander discussed her transition from academia to the policy world and how those skillsets intersect and inform each other. She also addressed questions ranging from Russia’s growing involvement in the Middle East to the effectiveness of economic sanctions in response to Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Dr. Celeste Wallander with UNC graduate students and CSEEES leadership. Picture by Emmy Grace.

In her talk, Dr. Wallander discussed the development and implications of ‘Putinism’ and the dichotomy between the perceptions and realities of decision-making in today’s Russia. She offered a succinct overview of Russia’s geopolitical goals under Putin’s leadership before addressing specific attempts by the Kremlin to challenge the global liberal order. Ranging from the development of economic sanctions post-Crimea to conference room meetings with President Putin, Dr. Wallander has had an especially colorful career to share with the UNC community.

A video recording of Dr. Wallander’s talk is available here.

Author: Jason Port (MA Student in Global Studies, REEES Track)

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