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Department of Political Science

Domestic Politics and Peace/Conflict: The Soviet Union in 1991 and Russia Today

Panel 1

Monday 11 September


Jeffrey Checkel
European U. Institute, Italy

In 1991, the Cold War ended with (almost) no shots fired.  Thirty-one years later - in 2022 - war returned to Europe.  In both cases, developments in Soviet and now Russian domestic politics played a central role in bringing about these outcomes.  But what do we mean by 'domestic politics'? I will argue for a broad conception, where a combination of changing domestic institutional dynamics and identity narratives empower individual agency, thus leading to unexpected, large-scale change. The Soviet leader in 1991 - Mikhail Gorbachev - chose peace, while the Russian leader in 2022 - Vladimir Putin - chose war.  Why?