Events Calendar

Russian Policy in Syria and the Middle East: Determination, Delight, and Disappointment
Dec 7 @ 9:00 AM – 2:15 PM

9:00 Coffee and pastries

9:30-11:30am. Panel 1. Russia’s Engagement Strategies in the Middle East

Nikolas Gvosdev (Naval War College/Foreign Policy Research Institute; Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs)

Russian Strategic Goals in the Middle East

Ekaterina Stepanova (National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow)

Russia’s Policy on the Middle East Conflicts: Regionalization and what it Means for the West

Mark Katz (George Mason University)

Not Getting Any Easier:  Putin’s Middle East Balancing Act

Anna Borshchevskaya (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Putin’s Russia in the Middle East: is there an Endgame?

11:30-12:00pm Lunch

12:00-2:15pm. Panel 2. Russia’s Military Involvement in Syria and its Impact

Michael Kofman (CNA Analysis and Solutions)

Russian Military Operations in Syria and their Implications for Russian Armed Forces

Gregory Simons (Uppsala University)

Russia in the Middle East: Emergence of a new Geopolitical Shatter Belt?

Antonio Giustozzi (King’s College London)

Putin’s Masterpiece: Russia’s Military and Diplomatic Role in Syria through Syrian and Iranian Eyes

Maria Omelicheva (National Defense University)

Russia in Syria: Reshaping the Global Order or Fighting Terrorism?

Igor Delanoe (French-Russian analytical center Observo, French-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Moscow)

How does Moscow Intend to Support Syria’s Reconstruction?


This workshop is part of the “Islam in Russia, Russia in the Islamic World,”
generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation



Dark Shadows Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan with author Joanna Lillis
Feb 7 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Traversing dust-blown deserts and majestic mountains, taking in glitzy cities and dystopian landscapes, Dark Shadows conjures up Kazakhstan as a living, breathing place, full of extraordinary people living extraordinary lives. Strategically located in the heart of Central Asia, sandwiched between Vladimir Putin’s Russia, its former colonial ruler, and Xi Jinping’s China, this vast oil-rich state is carving out its place in the world as it contends with its own complex past and present. Journalist Joanna Lillis paints a vibrant picture of this emerging nation through vivid reportage based on 13 years of on-the-ground coverage, and travels across the length and breadth of this enigmatic country that lies along the ancient Silk Road and at the geopolitical and cultural crossroads where East meets West. Featuring tales of murder and abduction, intrigue and betrayal, extortion and corruption, this book explores how a president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, transformed himself into a potentate and the economically-struggling state he inherited at the fall of the USSR into a swaggering 21st-century monocracy. A colourful cast of characters brings the politics to life: from strutting oligarch to sleeping villagers, from principled politicians to striking oilmen, from crusading journalists to courageous campaigners.

Joanna Lillis is a Kazakhstan-based journalist reporting on Central Asia whose work has featured in outlets including The Economist, the Guardianand the Independent, the Eurasianetwebsite, and Foreign Policy andPOLITICO magazines. Prior to settling in Kazakhstan in 2005, she lived in Russia and Uzbekistan between 1995 and 2005, and worked for BBC Monitoring, the BBC World Service’s global media tracking service. While completing a BA in Modern Languages at the University of Leeds, she studied Russian in the Soviet republics of Belorussia and Ukraine before the collapse of the USSR, and she has an MA in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Bradford.