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What’s Next for Russia, Ukraine and the World?

February 28, 2022

On the 28th of February 2021, JHU SAIS hosted a special Dean’s Speaker Series on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The opening remarks and event moderation were done by Dean James Steinberg. The first panelist was Sergey Radchenko, who stated that “while Putin has a made a miscalculation, he is still a rational actor.”

In Radchenko’s view, “a cornered animal is more dangerous, and no one should delude themselves into believing the Russian military is a paper-tiger, so we need an urgent off-ramp.” The second panelist, Eugene Finkel, concurred with this sentiment by stating that “while Ukraine’s resilience has surprised the West, no matter their bravery, the military advantage lies with Russia.” The third panelist, Mary Sarotte, also echoed similar sentiments noting that “though it is remarkable how the Ukrainians have held off the Russians, like Sun Tzu stated, a ‘golden bridge of retreat’ must be created for Putin.”

The fourth panelist was Anne Applebaum, who speaking on the psychology of Vladimir Putin noted that he “suffers from anxiety over the fears he felt as a young KGB Officer in Dresden as the regime collapsed.” In her opinion, the events in Ukraine “magnify that by making Putin feel that the same will happen in Russia against him.” However, she cautioned that only “the Russian elite could actually remove him from power.” Panelist five, Matthias Matthijs, meanwhile spoke on how Germany has “undergone a paradigm shift,” because of the invasion and that “Ostpolitik and the foreign policy of Angela Merkel are dead.” He noted the “astounding decision” of Germany to rearm and its pledges to stop using Russian gas. Panelist six, Thomas Rid, agreed with this sentiment noting how “Putin has united Europe and NATO, and convinced the Germans to overcome their trauma of fighting.”

Panelist seven, Daniel Serwer, warned that similar Serbian revisionism could pose a danger to the Balkans, but the Middle East “will remain ambiguous and not broken into blocs.” Panelist eight, Hal Brands, meanwhile noted that “it was too early to make assumptions, and the Russians will likely become more indiscriminate in their military targeting.” Panelist nine, Eliot A. Cohen, spoke about how underlying assumptions of Putin and Zelensky’s personalities “blinded analysts from what was happening.” He then noted the importance of “moral and purpose,” in war.

Panelist ten was John McLaughlin, who felt that “only Ukraine threatens Russia because of its ability to influence Moscow,” and believed that “Russians will not take well to the slaughter of their fellow Slavs.” Finally, panelist ten was Adam Szubin, “who noted the scope and speed of the sanctions,” and “Putin’s mistake of parking his soldiers without moving, giving the West time to mobilize.” The presentations were followed by a short segment of question and answer.


  • James Steinberg is the 10th Dean of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. Prior to becoming the Dean of SAIS, Dean Steinberg served as the University Professor of Social Science, International Affairs and Law at Syracuse University and served as Dean of the Maxwell School from July 2011 until June 2016.
  • Anne Applebaum is a staff writer for The Atlantic and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also a Senior Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where she co-directs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda.
  • Hal Brands is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor of Global Affairs and a member of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs. Concurrently, he is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.
  • Eliot A. Cohen is the Robert E. Osgood Professor at SAIS where he has taught since 1990. He served as Dean of SAIS from 2019 to 2021. In addition to public service in the Department of Defense, he served as Counselor of the Department of State from 2007 to 2009.
  • Eugene Finkel is an Associate Professor at SAIS and works at the intersection of political science and history. His research focuses on how institutions and individuals respond to extreme situations: violence, state collapse, and rapid change. He was born in Ukraine and grew up in Israel.
  • Mary Sarotte is an expert in the history of international relations and is the inaugural holder of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Distinguished Professorship of Historical Studies. She is a member of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs and a research associate at Harvard University's Center for European Studies.
  • Sergey Radchenko is the Wilson E. Schmidt Distinguished Professor at SAIS Europe and a member of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs. He has written extensively on the Cold War, nuclear history, and on Russian and Chinese foreign and security policies.
  • Thomas Rid is Professor of Strategic Studies at SAIS. He has more than a decade of experience in international security and intelligence studies and has shared his expertise on information security through testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, as well as the German Bundestag and the UK Parliament.
  • Matthias Matthijs is Associate Professor of International Political Economy. His research focuses on the politics of economic crises, the role of economic ideas in economic policymaking, and the politics of regional integration. At SAIS, he teaches courses in international relations and comparative politics
  • John McLaughlin is Distinguished Practitioner in Residence in the Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at SAIS. He is a 1966 graduate of SAIS and served as Acting Director of Central Intelligence from July to September of 2004 and as the Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 2000 to 2004.
  • Daniel Serwer is a Senior Fellow at Foreign Policy Institute at SAIS where he taught conflict management for a decade. He is affiliated as a scholar with the Middle East Institute.
  • Adam Szubin is a Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence at SAIS. Previously, he served as the Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department.