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Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia is projecting an autocratic model of governance abroad and working to undermine the influence of liberal democracies, namely along Russia’s historical borderlands. Russia caused an international uproar in 2016, when it interfered in the U.S. presidential contest. But Putin’s foreign policy toolkit includes other instruments, from alliances with autocrats to proxy wars with the U.S. in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria. How does Putin conceive of national interests, and why do Russian citizens support him? How should the United States respond to Putin’s foreign policy ambitions?
Alexandra Vacroux is Executive Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and Lecturer on Government at Harvard University. Her scholarly work addresses many Russian and Eurasian policy issues. In addition, she teaches popular courses on the comparative politics of Eurasia and post-Soviet conflict. She has mentored dozens of Harvard’s best and brightest Russian regional studies students and scholars. She is an active member of the bilateral Working Group on the Future of U.S.–Russia Relations, and co-chairs the Davis Center's long-running Comparative Politics Seminar.