The Monterey Conversations are an exploration of topics related to Russia, to U.S.-Russian relations and to the post-Soviet world. They go in-depth into the key questions of our moment and range from the war in Ukraine to political economy and to culture. Invited guests are policy-makers, area experts, scholars and journalists - coming from a variety of different countries and representing many different points of view. At a time of crisis, these conversations capture the most important debates taking place in the United States, in Europe and around the globe. See the links to forthcoming and past events below.

Upcoming Events

[POSTPONED] Debating the War in Ukraine: A Conversation with Daniel Kurtz-Phelan

The Monterey Initiative in Russian Studies will be postponing the Monterey Conversation between Michael Kimmage and Daniel Kurtz-Phelan originally scheduled for July 6.

Make-up details to follow.

This conversation with Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, the editor of Foreign Affairs, will focus on the policy questions that have followed from the war in Ukraine. It will look at how Foreign Affairs has tried to cover the war, to keep its readers informed about key developments and to ensure that the war gets thoroughly and rigorously debated.

Zoom registration link to be added at at future date. 

Recordings of Past Monterey Conversations


The Trouble with the “Free World”

This is a conversation about the notion of the free world, stemming from a May 6, 2022 Foreign Affairs article published by Peter Slezkine (East China Normal University). In this article, Slezkine argues that the Cold War idea of the free world maps only inaccurately onto the current war in Ukraine. Joining him to debate this idea are Anatol Lieven (Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft) and Jeffrey Gedmin (American Purpose), who offer their perspectives on the proper connections between the Cold War past and the 21st-century present, asking not just about the trouble with the “free world” but whether the free world is itself in trouble or whether it is once again salient and ascendant. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.

Listen to the podcast.


Reporting on the War in Ukraine

This conversation took up the work of two leading English-language journalists, Joshua Yaffa (The New Yorker) and Anton Troianovski (The New York Times), both of whom are covering the war in Ukraine. At issue were the challenges of covering this war, the difficulties of writing about Russia when so many non-Russian journalists have either left the country or been expelled and the uses and abuses of information in this first major twenty-first century war. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.

Listen to the podcast.


The Ukraine Scenarios

Since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine, many predictions about the course of the war have been put into question. In this Monterey Conversation, Michael Kimmage and Liana Fix discussed with Justin Vogt the multiple pathways of this war - and the consequences for U.S. and European security if the war doesn’t end. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.

Listen to the podcast.


The Wild 1990s: (Mis)remembering the Yeltsin Era in Today’s Russia

In this Monterey Conversation, Michael Kimmage, Olga Malinova, Will Pyle and Jade McGlynn examined the politicized memory of the 1990s and its role in shaping Russian society, attitudes towards the West, and sense of national humiliation. They contrasted this with the economic reality of that era, outlining how the turbulence was used to fuel a sense of grievance and considered where memory and history diverge and how political uses of the 1990s are changing against the backdrop of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.

Listen to the podcast.


The War in Ukraine: What It Means for NATO and the EU

For this Monterey Conversation, Michael Kimmage, Max Bergmann, Hans Kundnani, Jade McGlynn and Rachel Rizzo explored the many European reverberations of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. This panel assessed the war itself as a threat to European security and the challenge the war presents to NATO and the EU as well as the long-term opportunities that may result from this terrible war. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.

Listen to the podcast.

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Prisoners of History? Memory, Myth-Making, and Russia’s War on Ukraine

On April 15, 2022, Ivan Krastev, Jade McGlynn, and Michael Kimmage discussed the role of historical myths in justifying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as how the systemic flaws of the authoritarian power vertical in Russia contributed to masking reality and the extent to which analysts overlooked the role of emotion and messianism in Russian decision-making. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.

Listen to the podcast.

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The Return of the Taliban: What Does it Mean for the Region, Russia, and the West?

On September 21, 2021, Elena ChernenkoAnatol LievenRakesh Sood, and Clarissa Ward discussed the far-reaching consequences of the Afghanistan crisis. Watch the recording of this Monterey Conversation.