Leon Aron is Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of three books and over 300 articles and essays. From 1999 to 2014 he wrote the Russian Outlook, a quarterly essay on economic, political, social and cultural aspects of Russia’s post-Soviet transition, published by the Institute. He is the author of the first full-scale scholarly biography of Boris Yeltsin, Yeltsin: A Revolutionary Life (St. Martin’s Press, 2000); Russia’s Revolution: Essays 1989-2006 (AEI Press, 2007); and, most recently, Roads to the Temple: Memory, Truth, Ideas and Ideals in the Making of the Russian Revolution, 1987-1991 (Yale University Press, 2012) .
Dr. Aron earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University, has taught a graduate seminar at Georgetown University, and was awarded the Peace Fellowship at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has co-edited and contributed the opening chapter to The Emergence of Russian Foreign Policy, published by the U.S. Institute of Peace in 1994 and contributed an opening chapter to The New Russian Foreign Policy (Council on Foreign Relations, 1998), the first detailed and systematic account of the intellectual and moral revolution that precipitated the Soviet collapse.
Dr. Aron has contributed numerous essays and articles to newspapers andmagazines, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, theWall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, The NewRepublic, Weekly Standard, Commentary, New York Times Book Review, the TimesLiterary Supplement. A frequent guest of television and radio talkshows, he has commented on Russian affairs for, among others, 60 Minutes,The Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Charlie Rose, CNN International,C-Span, and National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and “Talk of theNation.”
From 1990 to 2004, he was a permanent discussant at the Voice of America’s radio and television show Gliadya iz Ameriki (“Looking from America”), which was broadcast to Russia every week.
The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 has finally spurred the United States and Europe to agree on imposing additional sanctions on Russia. But Vladimir Putin's tactics in Ukraine are likely to be far more influenced by his domestic political calculus than by international pressure.
From the moment the corrupt pro-Russian authoritarian regime of Viktor Yanukovich was overthrown in Kiev at the end of February, Vladimir Putin's most important objective has been to continue to solidify his domestic political base by means of the rally around the flag effect.
In the thick fog of war hanging over eastern Ukraine following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 it is only possible at this point to establish the perimeter of the known and then to evaluate the potential culpability on a more-likely to less-likely scale.
With Russia’s proxies in east-south Ukraine in retreat, there has been no word or deed from Vladimir Putin. But don’t expect a spectacular change in his strategy in response to the events on the ground. Only tactics are likely to be adjusted.
In the winter of 2012, something surprising happened to Vladimir Putin: He discovered, as he wrote in a government newspaper, that Russia isn't just an ordinary country but a unique "state civilization," bound together by the ethnic Russians who form its "cultural nucleus." This was something new.
Putin has used the Ukrainian revolution as an opportunity to overhaul Russia's political order by creating a regime that would be considerably more repressive, aggressive, and unpredictable. Future US and EU sanctions should aim to curb the malignant transformation of the Putin regime rather than solely to dissuade Moscow from further action in eastern Ukraine.