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History As It Happens

Feb 22, 2024

In every war, there is a battle over its origins. In this episode, historians Michael Kimmage and Mark Galeotti discuss Kimmage's new book, "Collisions," which seeks to explain why the excessive optimism of the early 1990s about Russia's path toward democracy and market economics never materialized. Moreover, Kimmage's narrative explains what led to each major collision between Russia and Ukraine; Russia and Europe; and Russia and the larger "rules-based order" led by the United States. Russia under Putin -- and for a brief period, Dmitry Medvedev -- and the United States under five presidential administrations could not overcome a fundamental dissonance in how each viewed the other's role in the world. Institutions such as NATO and the E.U., seen in the West as bulwarks of democracy, human rights, and economic prosperity, were viewed with hostility by Putin, who believed an independent Ukraine had no right to join them. ((Note: This conversation was recorded before the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka fell to Russian forces))