Book Talk: The Sources of Russian Aggression

Russia’s goals and intentions as an international actor have long been the subject of contentious expert debate. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine lent a renewed significance and sense of urgency to analyses of Russian aggression, spawning a host of pressing questions for scholars and policymakers alike. To what degree should Russia be seen as a revisionist power? What exactly are its geopolitical motivations toward the west and how far is it willing to go to achieve its ends? Is Moscow’s ongoing confrontation with NATO best characterized as a clash between incompatible ideologies, or should we look to deeper structural factors to explain Russian behavior? 

To discuss the forces driving Russian foreign policy and what they can tell us about the workings of the international system, Kelley Vlahos, Senior Advisor at the Quincy Institute and Editorial Director of Responsible Statecraft, and Mark Episkopos, Eurasia Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute, was joined by Sumantra Maitra, the Director of research and outreach at The Center for Renewing America and author of The Sources of Russian Aggression


Sumantra Maitra

Dr. Sumantra Maitra is the Director of research and outreach at the American Ideas Institute, a senior fellow at the Center for Renewing America, and a senior editor at The American Conservative. He is also a senior contributor to The Federalist, and an elected, Associate Fellow at the Royal Historical Society, London. He is a former fellow at the Center for the National Interest, and at the James G Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He completed his PhD in International Relations at the University of Nottingham, UK, with a Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship in Research Excellence.

Mark Episkopos

Mark Episkopos is a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute’s Eurasia Program. He is also an Adjunct Professor of History at Marymount University. Episkopos holds a PhD in history from American University and a masters degree in international affairs from Boston University. His research focuses on great power competition and the international system, the transatlantic relationship, Russian foreign policy, military thought and capabilities, and domestic politics, and issues in Eastern European security.

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a senior advisor at the Quincy Institute and editorial director of its online magazine, Responsible Statecraft. Previously she served as executive editor managing editor, and longtime foreign policy/national security writer at the American Conservative magazine. She also spent 15 years as an online political reporter for Fox News.