The UC Interview Series: Prof. Angela Stent

Interviewer: Claudia Westwood, UC Fellow

Claudia Westwood is a recent graduate of the MSc in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Oxford and holds a first-class honours BA in International Relations from King’s College London. Her research interests centre on foreign policy and identity in Russia and the post-Soviet republics. Claudia is a fellow at the University Consortium and currently interning at the European Leadership Network and at the UK Ministry of Defence.

Interviewee: Professor Angela Stent

Professor Angela Stent is director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies and a professor of government and foreign service at Georgetown University. She served in the State Department’s Office of Policy Planning in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations. From 2004 to 2006, she was the National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia at the National Intelligence Council. From 2009 to 2016 she was a member of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe advisory panel for Admiral James Stavridis and General Philip Breedlove. She is the author of The Limits of Partnership: U.S-Russian Relations in the Twenty-First Century  and Putin’s World: Russia Against the West and With the Rest.


Past Experience: On Studying in the USSR, Working in the US, and Being a Woman in the Field

Claudia:         I wanted to start off with a discussion of your past experience. You’ve had an amazing and varied career, and I’m so excited to hear your thoughts.

Angela Stent: So you’d like me to start at the very beginning? How did I get interested in this?

Claudia:         Yes exactly! When, how, and why did you enter the field? What motivated you to become involved with Russia-US-related issues? And was there anything in particular, any international event or experience, that motivated you to get involved in US-Russia?

Angela Stent: I would say I got interested in Russia by studying its history. I read History and Economics at Cambridge. At the end of my second year I got some money from Girton College, Cambridge and I took a boat from Tilbury to Leningrad. I didn’t speak a word of Russian, and in the summer of 1968, I spent a week in the Soviet Union, in Leningrad and Moscow. It was fascinating. I then took a train from Moscow, through Poland, there was all the ferment in the summer of 1968 in Poland, and I stopped in Prague only two or three weeks before the Soviet invasion. I remember staying at a bed and breakfast, the common language I had with them was German, and talking to the owners about politics. It was an exciting time to be there.

                        Next, I went through East Germany to West Berlin. That trip was really my first exposure to that part of the world, and I got pretty much hooked on it. So, when I finished my studies at Cambridge, I did my MSc in International Relations at the London School of Economics for a year, where I focused on Soviet issues.

                       Then, I did a second master’s degree at Harvard, which is where I finally learned Russian. Eventually, I wrote my PhD on West German attempts to use economic relations to  secure concessions from the Soviet Union on the German question.

                        I first spent a significant amount of time in the Soviet Union as a graduate student on a British Council Scholarship. I spent half a year at MGU (Moscow State University). I was supposed to go for a year, but just before I was about to go, the UK expelled 105 Soviet spies and in retaliation, all the programmes were delayed In the end, I was there from April to August 1974. That was a very interesting time to be there, because it was  during the Watergate events, in fact, I remember that I left the day Nixon resigned. In the USSR, they were following it, but were completely incredulous as to how anyone in the US could get excited about the fact that politicians were bugging each other’s phones and things like that!


                        I was writing on Soviet-German relations, but I couldn’t get permission to do that in Moscow, so my alleged topic had to do with the USSR and the Third World. I sat in the Lenin Library every day, where the foreigners sat along with former Soviet officials in the первый зал [the first hall]. My uncle was a molecular geneticist at Berkley, and his textbooks had been published in the Soviet Union. He had a group of friends, all scientists, certainly not fans of the Soviet system, and I spent most of my time with them. That’s really what gave me a much better understanding of the Soviet Union as it then was. After I came back, I started teaching at Georgetown.

                        While I was still a graduate student, the State Department was running a programme on how détente was perceived by both sides of the Cold War rivalry. That was really the first time I got involved with something that was policy oriented. By the time I started at Georgetown, I had also done two stints as a consultant for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, which was very interested in Soviet energy in Europe, something I had written about in my dissertation. I would say ever since I’ve been an academic I’ve done different kinds of consulting for the State Department and the Office of Technology Assessment (which no longer exists). I’ve been very lucky because in the US system you can move between academia and government in a way which is much more difficult in Europe. I did work in the Office of Policy Planning in the State Department from 1999 to 2001, and then I was National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia from 2004 to 2006. I’ve kept up consulting relations with different parts of the US government since then, so I’ve managed to do that for my academic career too. 

Claudia:         You touched on this a little bit, but I’m curious about your experience of education and upbringing in the UK and then your move to the US. Have you seen a difference between the US and the UK in narratives about Russia? Do you think your British or European perspective has affected your work in the US at all or has there been convergence between the two?

Angela Stent: I would say the kind of debates going back to the Cold War period were very similar between the US and the UK. I think the difference coming to the US was how many more people there were studying the region. Soviet Studies was much more robust in the US than in the UK. Growing up in Britain and spending time in Germany, understanding European perspectives on these topics, does give you a different point of view. If you’re in a country like Germany, which is almost a neighbour of the Soviet Union, having fought two world wars with them, the understanding is better than that of some people in the US. Some of the much sharper anti-Soviet rhetoric I found in the US was less prevalent in different parts of Europe. Two or three decades ago, the field was so dominated by emigres who had very strong feelings about the USSR. Obviously, there are still a lot of people who leave and it’s interesting to me that so many Russia specialists and academics in the US and the UK come from Russia, or their parents come from the Soviet Union. Adam Ulam, who was my main advisor when I was at Harvard, was another case, his family had fled Poland in 1939 and it also gives a different perspective.

Claudia:         Moving on, I also wanted to ask about your time serving on NATO’s advisory panel to the Supreme Allied Commander from 2009-2016. Given that Russia-West relations were tumultuous in this period, which began with the war in Georgia and ended  four years after Putin reassumed the presidency, I wanted to ask how challenging this period in particular was to make recommendations on Russia policy? Was it more challenging than other periods?

Angela Stent: The panels that I served on were both exclusively American, headed by Jim Stavridis and Philip Breedlove. I think for both of them it was really challenging to understand why Russia had done what it did in its neighbourhood, both in Georgia and later in Ukraine, and also why it was so difficult to make the NATO-Russia Council work. We got into a lot of these questions, particularly with General Breedlove, when we interpreted all the Russian prevaricating about what actually happened in Ukraine, and what happened with shooting down MH-17. It was tremendously challenging for both of those SACEURs trying to understand why Russia had taken this much more aggressive turn.

Claudia:         Lastly, you are a wonderful example of a very successful woman in this field so I wanted to ask about your experience as a woman in these senior roles. I think this topic is also very relevant with the new Biden administration where we are seeing the first female Vice President, Director of National Intelligence, Secretary of the Treasury; it’s clear there has been recent progress. I was wondering about your experience: how common was it for other women to serve alongside you and has it changed throughout your career?

Angela Stent: I would say I haven’t seen enough change. I’ve had too many experiences in my career where I am either the only woman, or maybe one of two or three women, in meetings, in conferences, in seminars. When I served in the State Department we did have a number of other women on policy planning. I was the first female National Intelligence Officer for Russia and Eurasia. Of course, Fiona Hill succeeded me and we’ve had another female National Intelligence Officer since then, Julia Gurganus, so I would say in that part of the intelligence community, things have changed. I think it’s getting better if you look at the government, particularly in the Biden administration, not so much in the Trump administration.

                        In the Russian Studies itself there are many more women than there used to be, but when you get in the higher echelons, they still need more. I think the US used to be doing better than some European countries, like Germany, but I think Europe is doing better now. I’ve had discussions with my Russian male colleagues about these issues, and they just laugh at me. I think there are some very good Russian women who are experts in a number of foreign policy fields but it’s much more challenging for them.


Current Issues: On US-Russian Relations, the Post-Soviet Space, and Beyond

Claudia:         Let’s pivot onto your views on current issues. I want to focus first on US-Russia relations and then I’ll broaden it to the rest of the world.

                        First of all, I’ll try to draw on your books, The Limits of Partnership and Putin’s World. In The Limits of Partnership you highlight the importance of the personal relationship between US and Russian presidents in the post-Cold War period. Given that Trump was almost shielded from engagement with Russia due to domestic scrutiny of his ties with the Kremlin, does the personal level remain as important and will it going forward?

Angela Stent: I think it will and I think that’s because from the Russian side, not much gets decided without Putin’s input. I talk to Obama-era officials, and recently I was talking to a Trump official, and they all say that when they have gone to Russia and tried to negotiate, it’s very hard to do so. There doesn’t seem to be much space for it and people on lower levels don’t seem to be empowered to make decisions. I think because of that, the personal relationships at the top are very important.

                        On the other hand, Trump wanted to develop this wonderful personal relationship with Putin. They met a few times, we have Trump standing next to Putin saying he believes his denials about election interference more than he believes what his intelligence community is telling him. But that personal relationship didn’t really produce any results, as you said, because of all the domestic issues having to do with Russia in the US. So, I think the personal relationship is important, but that doesn’t guarantee that you get anything done. It is worth noting that the Trump administration is the first since the end of the Cold War where the president hasn’t had an official visit to Russia and the Russian president hasn’t visited the United States, which in itself is quite interesting.

                        If you look forward, Biden and Putin know each other. I do not think they are going to enjoy a close, warm personal relationship. Biden called Putin a thug on the campaign trail and said Russia was the biggest threat to the US. Putin hasn’t been quite as pointed as that in his public remarks, but you note that he is one of the only major leaders who took weeks to recognise Biden’s election victory. It’s hard for me to imagine why Biden would, say, go to Russia and have a summit with Putin, unless something major develops. Until lower levels in the Russian bureaucracy are more empowered to agree on things, I think it’s going to be difficult to build a much more networked relationship between the two countries.

Claudia:         Now, I wanted to pivot to the ‘resets’, which I think are a really important part of your book and have become a common way to understand the relationship. In The Limits of Partnership you highlight the relationship ‘Resets’, i.e., the purposeful re-evaluations of US-Russia relations, often initiated after a new president takes office and resulting from a period of decline in the relationship. You detail the policies which were initiated under US presidents H. W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama, and by Putin when he came to power in 2000. You have mentioned that the personal relationship didn’t amount to much in the last four years, but I wanted to ask: was there a Trump reset?

Angela Stent:  I think he wanted a reset. He was explicit in saying that he wanted a deal with Russia. But there was no reset. The only reset was that you had a Russian president and an American president who praised each other all the time, but that didn’t amount to anything concrete. I find it hard to give you one example of an achievement the Trump administration made in relations with Russia. What you have is rafts of sanctions, which wasn’t what Trump wanted but it was what the legislative branch did. You had a bifurcated Russia policy, you had the president doing one thing or trying to do one thing, and the rest of the executive branch or congress having a very different view. So, sanctions and diplomatic expulsions were the main result of the Trump policy towards Russia. I don’t think that’s what Trump himself envisaged but he wasn’t able to do anything else.

Claudia:         Sure, and I think even some of the more successful resets have seen presidents ending their terms with relations as bad as, or even worse than, when they started. And with this kind of failure of Trump outright to initiate a reset, do you think that going forward, resets will still be a useful tool, or a useful way to conceptualise policy towards Russia, added to that the fact that Putin is likely to remain in power indefinitely due to the new constitutional amendment? Is there much room for manoeuvring on the US side, even beyond Biden and the next four or eight years, to initiate resets?

Angela Stent: The Biden administration understands that there won’t be a reset. Biden of course was the one who introduced the concept of the reset at the Munich Security Conference in 2009. Tony Blinken, Biden’s Secretary of State, had an interesting interview in 2017 that I was just watching about this. I think they realised that the reset worked under Medvedev, but not under Putin. So what this administration might do, is to aim for a normalisation of relations. They’ll probably aim for the restoration of some of the channels that atrophied under Trump: military to military contacts and strategic stability talks with the State Department. I also do think that they will extend New START.

                        I don’t think anyone in this incoming administration believes that somehow things are going to get much better or that they can find a much more productive way of dealing with Russia. Because all of those people who are getting the jobs have had a lot of experience including what it was like dealing with Putin. It is very difficult to envisage any successful reset as long as Putin’s in power because his view of the United States is so jaundiced or what he’d want from the United States would be impossible to deliver: a recognition of Russia’s sphere of privileged interests in the post-Soviet space and no more NATO enlargement to those countries.

Claudia:         Biden and Putin don’t have a particularly warm relationship and are unlikely to develop one, as you’ve mentioned. There’s domestic pressure to be quite tough on Russia, and you mentioned Antony Blinken who has been quite critical of Trump for being soft on Russia, so is there a chance there could be a rebuilding of the relationship, given Trump’s presidency has been characterised by uncertainty? Is there a chance it could get better from here?

Angela Stent: I think there will be more predictability and consistency in a Biden administration. That’s where I come back to the idea of normalising: more predictability, more consistency might improve the relationship somewhat. The relationship is worse than it’s been at any time since before Gorbachev came to power, and that’s largely tied to what happened in 2016 and domestic polarisation. The Russians didn’t elect Trump in 2016, but what they were able to do was to tap into the polarisation that exists in this country until now.

                        I think that if the relationship were to improve, a very important piece would be dealing with the impact of what Russia did domestically: with the interference, with the cyber questions, particularly the latest Solar Winds cyber attack, and with the social media campaigns. If it’s possible to come to some agreement with the Russians where both sides agree to exercise some restraint in these issues, then maybe you could see somewhat of an improvement in relations. But if we believe that the Kremlin has enjoyed seeing all of the polarisation in the United States, and the shambolic way the elections results have been received, then the question is what would the incentives be for the Russians to stop and come to the table?

Claudia:         To wrap up this section on the future of US-Russia relations, I was wondering in terms of policy, are there any opportunities for Biden to improve things? Rather than the relationship as a whole what opportunities are there for progress on specific issues?

Angela Stent: Yes, I think there are several. One is climate. We have John Kerry who’s going to be the new Climate Tsar, and Putin has appointed Anatoly Chubais as his climate envoy, Putin at Valdai talked about climate change being a real problem and a global issue, something he hasn’t said publicly before. I know people are sceptical as to whether he really believes it, but whatever he really believes he understands that this is an area where Russia has to engage if it wants to be seen as a responsible global stakeholder. So, you could see that as a potential area, as it was under Medvedev, where they could engage.

                       Related to that is the Arctic. The Arctic is an area where we are competing with the Russians; they try to be the dominant military and geopolitical power there. But we’ve also worked together with them in the Barents Sea Council and the Arctic Council, dealing with issues that in fact are linked to the environment and climate change resources. So that’s possibly an area of greater cooperation even though there’s also a lot of competition there.

                        Those are two areas that I can think of that we could work together. Beyond extending New START, what are we going to do about the issues surrounding the INF treaty which we both left? Obviously, Putin came up with a proposal, that I think the US wouldn’t accept, but there is the possibility of talking with the Russians about how you deal with the intermediate range weapons going forward.

                        A big question is the future of sanctions. The Russians bristle at all of the sanctions we now have, at these sanctions where the US government is trying to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Biden’s people have said that they’re going to re-examine sanctions and see how efficacious they’ve been. On the other hand, I think they’re also willing to impose more sanctions if they believe that Russia pursues policies in areas that are against US interests. So you might see somewhat of a moderation of some sanctions, but the sanctions are now enshrined in congressional legislation, while under Obama, they were mainly imposed by executive order. It’s very difficult to remove congressionally mandated sanctions.

Claudia:         Now I want to turn away from the US to look at Russia’s activities in the rest of the world. In Putin’s World, you note that the US’s withdrawal from the Middle East left a vacuum which Russia has sought to fill. I have a few questions related to this: the first one is how successful do you think Russia has been in filling this gap?

Angela Stent: I think Russia has been very successful in returning as a major player to the Middle East, using fairly limited resources. It can’t replace the United States, obviously the US has much more to offer both economically and militarily to the Middle East. But Russia has certainly been successful, given where it was before. For instance, if the Biden administration decides to return to the JCPOA, the agreement with Iran, then I think that’s another area where Russia and the US might work together. Another area possibly would be if the Biden administration revives the quartet and reengages with Russia on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

                        Where Russia is very successful is it’s the only country that talks to all countries and all movements on all sides of all issues, including Iran, the major Sunni states, and Israel. This means the Russians have not been critical of the Abraham Accords - I would say one of the few achievements of the Trump administration - under which Israel was recognized by the UAE Bahrain, and subsequently by Sudan and Morocco. I think this is because Russia has pretty close ties with both Israel and Saudi Arabia, so there are some areas where US and Russian interests don’t diverge. On the other hand, Syria is one place where you will clearly see divergence. The US has largely pulled out of there and going forward I’m not sure the US will be willing to contribute towards the reconstruction of Syria.

                        So Russia cannot replace the United States, but to the extent the US has withdrawn from the area, the Russians have moved in and they are selling arms and making nuclear power plant deals with a number of countries. They are definitely present there in a way that they weren’t in the 1990s or early 2000s.

Claudia:         As you’ve mentioned, Russia is now dealing with a lot of complicated fronts in the Middle East. Circling back to the themes of your book Putin’s World, I wanted to ask to what extent is Putin personally involved in managing these relationships? And how does Russia do it; is it a coherent strategy, or more opportunism?

Angela Stent: I think Putin is personally involved in all major foreign policy decisions. It’s very hard to understand who makes decisions on foreign policy in Russia; once you get beyond Putin, we know it’s just a small group of people. And, as I say in my book, I think he’s been very successful in taking advantages presented to him by the United States and the West that didn’t necessarily have a coherent strategy in certain areas. That doesn’t mean that he makes all of the decisions, but I would say he’s pretty heavily involved in the general direction of policy.

                        What we have more limited insight into is the use of Russian mercenaries, like the Wagner troops, the ones that for instance came into conflict with the United States in Syria, where up to two hundred of them were killed. Clearly, Prigozhin and Putin have a close relationship but that doesn’t mean that Wagner doesn’t sometimes do things without consulting the Kremlin, but I do think in general these issues are something where Putin himself does play a major role.

Claudia:         Aside from the Middle East, where else has Russia been most successful at assuming a greater role in the face of US withdrawal? How should the US and the EU be approaching Russian activities in Latin America and Africa, for instance, as there’s more ambiguity about things like mercenaries, investment, and company to company relations?

Angela Stent: Well Russia has certainly gone back to Venezuela, or Igor Sechin has. If the Russians weren’t supporting Maduro I don’t know whether he would still be in power. We can also see Russia returning in Africa, again, to places where the US isn’t so present. This is very much true in the Central African Republic, and they have apparently just signed an agreement to have a military base in Sudan. Talking to some of the African participants at Valdai, they see Russia also as a balance against China. Some people in Africa are concerned about what China is doing there and they see Russia as an antidote to that.

Claudia:         Now I’d like to turn back to the post-Soviet space. We have seen a series of recent crises including the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, COVID-19, now Belarus, Nagorno-Karabakh, and political crises in Kyrgyzstan. Given your experience, what worries you the most in current Russia-West relations? Where do you see opportunities for improving relations?

Angela Stent: I think what we’re still dealing with is the continuing break-up of the Soviet Union, which we thought happened peacefully thirty years ago but whose consequences are still playing out. Russia hasn’t managed all of these crises that well. In Armenia it took a long time to offer support. I think Putin doesn’t like Pashinyan; he didn’t like the fact that Pashinyan was beginning to jail and try senior Armenian figures who had good relations with Russia. In the end, Russia has established a major military presence with two thousand peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, but it’s also competing with Turkey which has really established itself in the region. Hopefully the ceasefire lasts, but it may not and this may not be the end of the story. This can be an area where the OSCE process, the Minsk Group of the US, Russia, and France could really be revived. If the Russians and others were willing to recommit to the OSCE then that’s an area where we could work together.

                        In Belarus, it’s very hard to see a way in which we can cooperate with the Russians and there’s really not much we can do to affect what happens there. It highlights the relative ineffectiveness of the West. We can sanction people, but as long as Putin is backing Lukashenko and Lukashenko’s security forces haven’t turned against him, he’ll be in power for however long.

                        In Kyrgyzstan, I think we’ve been less involved. Ever since we lost the base in Manas and withdrew from Afghanistan, Central Asia has certainly become a lower priority for the US. In Moldova it will be interesting to see what happens with the new pro-West, or pro-European president.

                        In general, I still think the post-Soviet space is the most difficult area for the US and Russia to deal with because Russia believes we are denying it its right to a sphere of influence there.

Claudia:         Yes, and you have the ongoing issue that anything the US does there is received by Russia as yet another instance of Colour Revolution-style interference and denial of sovereignty. To sum up this section, I wanted to ask: given the tumultuous and increasingly hostile nature of Russia-West relations, what keeps you going and motivates your effort?

Angela Stent: Well, I do have colleagues that have left the field because they find it very depressing what’s happened to Russia and Russia’s relations with the West. For me, this is a very important part of the world and one we need to continue understanding. Even though you have to be very realistic about the extent to which you can improve ties with Russia, you have to keep at it. Giving up is an excuse. I think the other challenge is you still have a post-Soviet syndrome in the post-Soviet states, they resemble each other much more closely in the ways in which they are run. Even though in Ukraine and Georgia or even more Moldova, it’s more pluralistic, there’s a syndrome there which makes effective governance difficult, with corruption and things like that persisting. So I think it’s very important to remain involved. And Russia is the other nuclear superpower, it’s a country that could certainly destroy the United States if it wanted to, so that itself is a reason to be involved.


Message to the Younger Generation: On Expertise, Perseverance, and Dialogue

Claudia:         So, the final section is about your advice to students and the younger generation. Firstly I want to ask what warnings or advice you would offer to the upcoming generation of analysts and diplomats, and what would you encourage them to do more (or less) of in your experience?

Angela Stent: I think the first thing is we have to keep up the expertise on Russia, so it’s very important to keep up the master’s programmes, like yours. PhDs are a little more complicated because political science PhDs no longer award area knowledge, you can be a historian and focus on Russia, but it’s very hard to do that for a political scientist. I think that’s a great shame because we’re not really training the next generation of professors who are going to teach students in various programmes because they are being discouraged from acquiring this area knowledge. So, I think that’s a warning sign – it worries me. I want to know in 20 or 30 years’ time who is going to be on the faculty of the political science departments who speak Russian or know the region. But obviously it’s important to encourage people to go into this field, whether it’s in government service or in think tanks. And it’s very important to try to understand the other side’s point of view, that’s one of the reasons we all study these things: to try and understand their perspective. And then to draw a fine line between how they view things but also understanding what our own interests are and being able to formulate policies that are effective and that take into account their views but also our own interests.

Claudia:         Of course, and to circle back to our introduction, I wanted to ask, as you served on the advisory board of Women in International Security, do you have any advice specifically for young women entering this field?

Angela Stent: It’s to enter it and keep at it! And don’t be discouraged if you think that men aren’t always receptive to this – you just need to persevere. We now have something called the National Security Girl Squad at different universities which is doing good work. Most places now if you have panels on issues like this, you always have one woman on the panel. The era of the ‘manel’ (the all-male panel) is largely gone. People did point out that watching Valdai this year they were all ‘manels’ which is more complicated, but at least in Europe or the United States, my advice is just to persevere. Understand that women are just as good as men are, and they may have insights that men don’t have. So yes – persevere!

Claudia:         My final point to wrap up, is that the University Consortium places an emphasis on the importance of dialogue at the student level. There are also organisations working on Track-II dialogue initiatives. Do you think there is an opportunity for real dialogue between Russia and the West in the near or long term future? 

Angela Stent: I think the opportunities for dialogue are there. The great thing about the University Consortium is you have students talking to each other. In my experience, you have to also understand that if you’re having that kind of dialogue, there’s a difference between what the European and American students are going to say because they are generally freer than the Russians to express their opinions. It struck me when I was there two years ago and I said the reason for the sanctions is because of what Russia did in Ukraine, and its election interference in the U.S. , that’s a point of view Russians are often not willing to admit. They seem to think that Russia is a victim of sanctions imposed for no reason. So there are limits to dialogue. And my experience, particularly since Ukraine, after the events of 2014, it’s been very difficult. When I was at MGIMO talking to faculty and students it was hard to have any dialogue with them because we didn’t start off with the same facts. And the challenge of dialogue is who understands what facts and can you actually engage when you aren’t dealing with the same set of facts. Having said all that, it’s still very important on that level.

                        I’m in favour of second track dialogues between more senior people, but I think you have to be very realistic about their limited impact  on the top level of government. It’s important to continue civil society dialogue, second track dialogues, but at the same time to not believe that any of that is really going to change what someone in the Kremlin is going to do, or indeed in the White House. And the problem is we don’t have enough stakeholders in the US-Russia relationship, we need more. Part of that is because we don’t have much of a business relationship, and it’s much less now because of all the sanctions.

                        So, yes, continuing the dialogue is more challenging. As you know, the Russians cancelled the FLEX programme for high schoolers to come to the US. And they’ve cancelled some of the other programmes they had for the exchanges of students. So, we want to try to push to maintain those because at some point there won’t be Putin in the Kremlin. There will be other people and there might be more opportunities for dialogue later on.

Claudia:         Thank you so much for your time today.

Angela Stent: Thank you, I enjoyed this.