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The Second Session of the Eurasian Online Seminar with Dr. Andrew Kuchins

On Friday, April 17, the Department of International Relations and the International Laboratory on World Order Studies and the New Regionalism of National Research University Higher School of Economics held the second session of “Eurasian Online Seminar”. The seminar was conducted by the world-renowned scholar and expert on Russia and Eurasia, President of American University of Central Asia Dr. Andrew Kuchins. The topic of the seminar was “The US Approach to Eurasia”

Andrew Kuchins received his M.A. (1985) and Ph.D. (1992) in Soviet Studies and International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and his B.A. magna cum laude in Russian Studies from Amherst College in 1981. Dr. Kuchins has held faculty, research, and administrative positions at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Johns Hopkins University (SAIS). Most recently, from 2015-2019, Dr. Kuchins was a Research Professor at Georgetown University's Walsh School of Foreign Service where he taught and ran the Russia Futures program. Before that he directed the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC (2007-2015) and directed the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, including running the Carnegie Moscow Center for three years, from 2000-2007. He has authored, edited, and co-authored seven books on the region, more than 150 book chapters, monographs, reports, journal articles, and op-eds on the region and is frequently called upon by global media, governments, and leading private sector companies and investors for consultation. His most recent article “What is Eurasia to Us (the U.S.)?” was published in a special issue of Strategic Analysis journal and then turned into a book chapter of The Roads and Belts of Eurasia edited in our Laboratory by its head Professor Alexander Lukin and published earlier this year by Palgrave Macmillan.

In his lecture, the professor provided the timeline of the US approach to the Eurasia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He pointed out three main phases of US foreign policy regarding the region: the first one lasted for 10 years from the collapse of the Soviet Union until 9/11 attacks and was focused on the relationship with Russia, during the second phase the US was mainly preoccupied with the Middle East and its objective was the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Finally, the third phase started during the Obama presidency and its orientation is heavily China-dominated. Concluding his argument, Dr. Kuchins highlighted the fact that the main motivation for the United States in the region was the desire to prevent the emergence of peer competitor, such as China, Europe or Russia.

While describing the actual steps for achieving the goal, professor Kuchins emphasized that they were heavily dominated by the period in which they were conducted. The steps varied from the provision of oil and gas pipelines for former Soviet republics in the first phase to the support of islands of democracy in the region to which the US foreign policy officials adhere nowadays. All in all, Dr. Kuchins summarized the current situation in the Central Asian region as the US attemps to represent the two regional powers, that is China and Russia, as the malign forces that needs to be countered.

During the Q and A session, the professor gave his predictions regarding the possibility of the Russia-China alliance to counterbalance of the United States, saying that it would occur only if the United States made the significant number of strategic errors, and the prospects for the future of the region overall.