What is Vladimir Putin up to? With the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continued support of secessionists in Ukraine, the Russian President has elbowed his way to the center of the geopolitical stage as the United States – along with its western partners – worries about domestic politics and international terrorism.
The implications of Putin’s power grab will be clarified at St. Petersburg College on Feb. 23 by Marvin Kalb, veteran journalist, Russian scholar and author of an important new book on Putin and Russia. Kalb will speak at a dinner program sponsored by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions and co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, WEDU Television, and WUSF Public Media. The event will be held from 6 to 8:15 p.m. at SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. Admission to the dinner and program is $25 for the general public; $20 for students and educators. Advance registration is required.
Putin’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine are part of his strategy to reposition Russia as a global superpower and to set the stage for creation of a 21st century Russian empire, Kalb asserts in the book, Imperial Gamble: Putin, Ukraine and the New Cold War. In contextualizing the Crimea and Ukraine actions, Kalb undertakes a critical review of Russian history. Ukraine’s status as an extension of Imperial Russia, going all the way back to Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, must be acknowledged in what portends to be a new world order, he writes.
Kalb also includes critical analysis of the Western – especially United States’ – “haughty arrogance” toward Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The West’s – and especially President Barack Obama’s – emphasis on upholding Article 5 of the NATO Agreement precipitated Putin’s power grab, Kalb asserts. Article 5 states that an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all and will generate a full military response, if necessary. This was at a time when Ukraine’s leaders were actively seeking admission to NATO.
Kalb and his brother Bernard were well-known correspondents for CBS News in the 1950s and have co-authored two books, one a biography of Henry Kissinger and the second on the collapse of Saigon in 1975. They were part of the reporting team known as “Murrow’s Boys,” a cohort of some of modern America’s most illustrious journalists assembled by the iconic broadcast newsman Edward R. Murrow. Marvin Kalb went on to host Meet the Press on NBC News and later joined the Harvard Kennedy School as founding director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where he remains as a professor and senior fellow.
Kalb’s connection to Russia began with his undergraduate study at Harvard. Preparing for his Ph.D.in Russian history in the early 1950s, he agreed to serve as a translator at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. His travels in Russia during the Cold War led to freelance reporting on the Soviet Union for the New York Times and eventual recruitment by Murrow for CBS’s Moscow Bureau.
This program is another in the Institute’s Dinner Series, an initiative that addresses the most vital policy issues of the day in a civil and informal setting. For more information, call 727-394-6942.