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Consequential is a narrative podcast about public policy, its impacts, and its potential for building a better future. Season 5 premieres Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

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S5 E4: Putin's War of Aggression, One Year In


In the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a cohort of young Westerners flocked to Moscow, including many idealists who were eager to support the evolution of a democratic Russia.

Today, Russia is on the other side of the looking-glass, nearing the one-year anniversary of the unprovoked invasion of its neighbor, Ukraine. Russian citizens now find themselves conscripted into a military accused of human rights crimes on the warfront. And at home, the Kremlin's propaganda, brutality, and corruption abound. 

If there is a bright, shining light of democracy, Russia is a chilling place far from it.  

Today on the show: How did this happen? And what additional policy response is needed as Russia and Ukraine enter their second year of this waking nightmare?

Our guest is Sarah Mendelson, a former UN Ambassador, an expert in global development, human rights, and foreign policy, and the head of Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College in Washington, DC. She was also once one of those up-and-comers who moved to Moscow in the early 90s. 

Mendelson reminds us that while the world is rightfully focused on protecting Ukrainians, Vladimir Putin's war has also made victims of Russians, and those who advocate on their behalf. 

This episode featured recordings from the documentary film, "Putin Forever?," courtesy Kirill Nenashev.

Read the full transcript.


More FROM our guest

“Amb. Sarah Mendelson On Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine” (Heinz College, 2022)

“The Putin Problem: Ambassador Mendelson Talks Policy, Propaganda, and Russian Politics” (Heinz College, 2022)

“Dreaming of a Democratic Russia” (The American Scholar, 2007)

“Don’t Forget About The Rest of Ukraine” (CNN, 2014) 

“Responding to Putin’s Plan Post-Crimea” (CSIS, 2014) 

“Human Rights in Russia” (CSIS, 2022) 

“Reversing the Tide: Towards a New US Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism” (Freedom House, 2021)





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Episode Transcripts

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