Putin’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine: Exploring the Geopolitical Implications and the Challenges for Liberal Democracies

We have endured 9/11 and its aftermath. Now we are just beginning to confront 2/24, the day that Russia invaded Ukraine, and all that will follow it. In this discussion-focused course, we will take a deep breath and contemplate the hard realities and questions likely to emerge.

In our inquiry, we will give particular attention to the work of two scholars who have a deep knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian history: Tim Snyder, author of The Road to Unfreedom and Anne Applebaum, author of Twilight of Democracy. But we will also draw on the thoughts of many others who will add grist to our discussions as we engage issues concerning the role of grand theories in guiding foreign relations, the balance of power between nations, the uses made of history by national leaders, the lure of authoritarianism, the responsibility placed on the people in democracies, and more.

For each of our six weeks together, we will focus on three or four materials that will be made available electronically to class members. These will include articles, opinion pieces, podcasts, and YouTube videos. For those who wish to dig deeper, a few books and other materials will be suggested. Working as a group that jointly addresses the weekly material, we will have the opportunity to gain valuable perspective on the profound changes unleashed by Putin’s “special operation.”


Group Leader: MARK YESSIAN
Venue: Chilton Club
Meets on: Wednesdays 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Starting: 10/12/2022
Sessions: 6
Class Size: 16
Teaching Style: Seminar
Weekly Preparation: 3 - 4 hours
Group Leader Biography:

Mark Yessian has a Ph.D. in political science, three decades in government service at the federal level and, most importantly, an abiding curiosity about political philosophy and American political history and governance. That curiosity has deepened with the many courses he has led over the years at Beacon Hill Seminars and the Harvard Institute of Learning in Retirement.