Lessons from the Edge | A Conversation with the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
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In her illustrious career with the United States foreign service, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (ret.) had worked to combat corruption, instability, and poverty in developing countries in the former Soviet Union. She was removed from her post as ambassador to Ukraine in 2019, as the result of a public and politically motivated campaign against her. Later that year, her congressional testimony at President Trump's first impeachment inquiry elevated her as a courageous and dignified voice of truth and defender of democracy at home and abroad.
The Kennan Institute proudly welcomed Amb. Yovanovitch for a conversation about her new memoir, Lessons from the Edge, which follows the arc of her career, as well as her insights into Russia’s war in Ukraine.
- "At its core, diplomacy is an optimistic profession.” And we have reason to maintain optimism about the outcome in Ukraine. “Think about where we were on February 24. I bet if we did a poll of this room, maybe people thought it would be a cakewalk to Kyiv. It didn't happen because Ukrainian people are a free people, with a distinct country that has a right to exist, and they fought for their family, their country and their freedom.”
- We need to be asking bigger questions about what Putin hopes to achieve by invading Ukraine. “Putin has broader goals—he’s told us that—and if you look at what he’s done in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, then I take him at his word. It’s about what kind of world we want to live in.” Democracies aren’t perfect, but they have delivered better results than the current model of authoritarian, top-down governance in Russia.
- In retrospect, the West should have done more to support Ukraine since the initial occupation of Crimea and Donbas. “We did a number of things—we should have done more. Putin could withstand that, and he thought that coming up to 2022 that the West was weak, it was not united, and it would not push back. I don’t think he [foresaw] the ferocity of these sanctions.”
The Kennan Institute is the premier U.S. center for advanced research on Russia and Eurasia and the oldest and largest regional program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The Kennan Institute is committed to improving American understanding of Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and the surrounding region though research and exchange. Read more
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