The Latest from the Kennan Institute

What Russia Really Wants

Event //
June 02, 2015 // 4:00pm5:00pm
Over the past 18 months, Russia’s relations with the EU and US have deteriorated under the cloud of Western Sanctions and Russian propaganda. Dmitry Polikanov will examine developments from Moscow’s perspective and to what extent Russia differentiates between the EU and US in its policy-making decisions. Polikanov will also identify possible areas of opportunity for improving relations. more

The Second Baptism of Rus'?: The Return of Religion and the (Soviet) Origins of Russian Patriotism

Event //
June 01, 2015 // 3:30pm4:30pm
Despite the Soviet Union's commitment to atheism and secularization, religion remained a problem without a solution for most of the Soviet period--until, in 1988, it paradoxically returned to public life by invitation of the state itself. How did the regime's engagement with religion and atheism transform the Soviet Union's understanding of spiritual life? Dr. Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock will discuss how this Soviet legacy illuminates the ideological landscape of contemporary Russia. more

Will Putin Gamble All On A Broader Ukraine Invasion?

Article //
May 25, 2015
"The incursion in Ukraine is modest compared with that of Afghanistan, and the number of Russian deaths is far smaller. Yet once again a limited number of Kremlin leaders, without benefit of public debate, may make a fateful decision about using force against a neighbor. The leaders should bear in mind the lesson of Afghanistan and exercise caution," write Denis Corboy, William Courtney, and Kenneth Yalowitz. more

Can Russian-Western Cooperation in the Arctic Survive the Current Conflict?

Event //
June 29, 2015 // 10:00am11:30am
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine affects the prospects for peace and general cooperation in the region and far beyond. One such area to consider is what impact the conflict will have on the future of the Arctic. Is there an agenda and, if so, the necessary political will for continued Russia-West cooperation in this theatre? What would such cooperation look like and what are the consequences if it fails to materialize? more

Leitmotiv in Russian Novels of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Event //
June 11, 2015 // 4:00pm5:30pm
Very few readers notice that the general plot structure of three of the greatest Russian novels of the 20th century – Doctor Zhivago, And Quiet Flows the Don, and Lolita – is the same, because the authors have unwittingly described the same situation. Each story features main heroines, symbolizing Russia, who are defiled by their fathers (or step-fathers) and then run away with lovers and bear dead children. Incest becomes a metaphor of power that depraves the country through criminal methods of governing. In Nabokov's case, the topic of defilement and forbidden passion is always connected with the threat of prison (Invitation to a Beheading, Bend Sinister, preface to Lolita, and Lolita itself: in attempting to become free from obsessive desire, the hero falls deeper and deeper into an abyss of dependence and fear. It is the best metaphor for the 1917 revolution which only deteriorated the conditions of Russian life). Meanwhile, the main hero hopes that the fulfillment of sinful wish would cure him, but it is a great delusion both in moral and social terms. This plot line first appeared in Tolstoy's novel, The Resurrection, which in essence predicted Russian history for more than 100 years. more

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