Russia-Ukraine Dialogues: the future of Russia

One of the issues that the recent Wagner rebellion has exposed is Russia's fragility. As such, the event focused on domestic vulnerabilities, potential state failure, widening disparities, and the fragile nature of Russian identity. The primary objective was to foster a constructive dialogue that shed light on the ramifications of the ongoing war for Russia's future trajectory. Additionally, the event aimed to identify how Russia's domestic fragilities would impact the war itself, and to examine how Western policymakers should respond to these complex issues. #LSERussiaUkraine

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This webinar was held on Tuesday 25 July.

Meet the speakers and chair

Natalia Arno (@Natalia_Budaeva) is the President of Free Russia Foundation which she founded in 2014 after she had been exiled from Russia for her pro-democracy work. From 2004-2014, Ms. Arno conducted programs serving Russian civil society in the fields of education, grassroots organizing, civic education, party building, women and youth leadership, civil society development, and local governance, as part of her work at the International Republican Institute in Russia. From the start of Putin’s war, FRF, under Ms. Arno’s leadership, has mobilized in support of Ukraine’s resistance, providing emergency relief to alleviate the suffering in Ukraine, supporting evacuation efforts and extending services to Ukrainian refugees and evacuees both in-person and remotely. FRF has also evacuated thousands of activists from inside Russia since the start of the war. Free Russia Foundation has organized anti-war efforts targeting Russia from its centers in Georgia, the U.S., and Lithuania, coordinating the work of individual activists to ensure strategic alignment of messaging, fact-checking, and reach to key individuals and institutions within Russia.

Janusz Bugajski (@JBugajskiUSA) is a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington DC and host of television shows broadcast in the Balkans. Bugajski has authored 21 books on Europe, Russia, and trans-Atlantic relations. His recent books include Failed State: A Guide to Russia’s Rupture (2022), Eurasian Disunion: Russia’s Vulnerable Flanks (with Margarita Assenova) (2016); and Conflict Zones: North Caucasus and Western Balkans Compared (2014). His forthcoming book is titled 'Pivotal Poland: Europe’s Rising Strategic Player'. He is a contributor to several media outlets in the US and Europe and has testified before a number of US congressional committees including: Helsinki Commission, Senate Foreign Relations, Senate Armed Services, House Foreign Affairs, and House Defense Appropriations.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky (@khodorkovsky_en) is a founder of the Russian Anti-War Committee. A successful businessman, Khodorkovsky was head of YUKOS, Russia's largest private oil firm, where he established international management codes of practice, and substantially increased production. An early supporter of democratic change, at a televised meeting with President Putin in early 2003, he criticised endemic corruption. Later that same year he was arrested, and jailed on charges of tax evasion and fraud, charges, which he denied and vigorously defended. Khodorkovsky was sentenced to fourteen years in prison. He was declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International; and finally released in December 2013. Today, Khodorkovsky advocates an alternative vision for his country: a strong and just state, committed to observing human rights, free and fair elections, and the rule of law.

Leon Hartwell (@LeonHartwell) is a Senior Associate at LSE IDEAS and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington DC. His research interests include conflict resolution, genocide, diplomacy, democracy, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the Western Balkans. Previously, Hartwell was the Senior Advisor of the Central and South-East Europe Programme (CSEEP) and the 2022 Sotirov Fellow at LSE IDEAS, and CEPA’s Acting Director of the Transatlantic Leadership Program.  From 2012 to 2013, he was also the Senior Policy Advisor for Political and Development Cooperation at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Zimbabwe, where his work included government and civil society engagement, political reporting, peace building projects, and supporting human rights defenders. In 2019, Hartwell completed a joint doctoral degree summa cum laude at Leipzig University (Germany) and Stellenbosch University (South Africa). His thesis analyzed the use of mediation in the resolution of armed conflicts. Hartwell has published extensively in professional scholarly outlets and mainstream media ranging from the Negotiation Journal (Harvard-MIT-Tufts) and Oxford University Press to War on The Rocks. He speaks Afrikaans, English, Dutch, and Latvian, which he studied at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute.