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Expert Briefing | War in Europe: Russia's Invasion of Ukraine
4:00pm - 5:00pm ET


With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, the most serious crisis in Europe since World War Two has come to a head. Diplomatic efforts by the West to reduce the risk of war have failed. Russian troops have advanced into Ukrainian territory by land, air, and sea, with reports of heavy fighting and bombing of military and civilian targets across the country.

As a result of Putin’s decision, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union have instituted sanctions against Russian official entities and individuals, while Germany has halted the opening of the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline.

How will Ukraine defend itself against this attack? What are the goals of Putin’s military campaign? What could be the humanitarian and economic consequences for Europe and beyond?

Join Perry World House and the Christopher H. Browne Center for International Politics to hear from experts Trudy RubinThe Philadelphia Inquirer’s foreign affairs columnist, who has just returned from a reporting trip to Ukraine and Lithuania; Rudra Sil, Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania; and Alexander Vershbow, former Deputy Secretary General of NATO. This discussion will be moderated by Jane Vaynman, Lightning Scholar at Perry World House and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Temple University.


Trudy Rubin is the Worldview columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer and a member of The Inquirer's editorial board. Her column runs in many other U.S. newspapers. In 2019, Rubin received the Overseas Press Club of America’s Flora Lewis Award for Best Commentary in international affairs. In 2017 and 2001, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In 2010, she received the Arthur Ross Award for distinguished analysis of foreign affairs from the American Academy of Diplomacy. She is the author of Willful Blindness: The Bush Administration and Iraq. Ms. Rubin has special expertise on the Middle East, South Asia, and Russia. In recent years, she has written from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, Turkey, France, Italy, Britain and Germany. Before joining The Inquirer in 1983, she was Middle East correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. She is a graduate of Smith College and the London School of Economics.

Rudra Sil is Professor of Political Science and Director of Graduate Studies. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and has been teaching at Penn since 1996. Since 2011, he has also been serving as the SAS Director of the Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business. His scholarly interests encompass comparative politics, Russian/post-communist studies, Asian studies, the politics of labor, international development, qualitative methodology, and the philosophy of the social sciences. Sil is author, co-author or co-editor of seven books, including Managing ‘Modernity’: Work, Community, and Authority in Late-Industrializing Japan and Russia (University of Michigan Press, 2002), and Beyond Paradigms: Analytic Eclecticism in the Study of World Politics (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2010), coauthored with Peter Katzenstein. Sil is currently working on two books, Russia Reconsidered: Fate of a Former Superpower and Pathways of the Post-communist Proletariat: Labor Politics in Russia, China and Eastern Europe. His most recent paper on labor – coauthored with former Penn Ph.D. student, Allison Evans – was awarded the 2019 Dorothy Day Award for Outstanding Labor Scholarship.

Alexander Vershbow is a Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. He was Deputy Secretary General of NATO from 2012 to 2016, the first American to hold that position. He was directly involved in shaping the Alliance’s response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, adapting NATO’s deterrence posture, and deepening NATO’s partnerships across the globe. A career diplomat since 1977, Vershbow served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (2009-2012), U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea (2005-2008), U.S. Ambassador to Russia (2001-2005) and U.S. Ambassador to NATO (1998-2001). He also held numerous senior positions in Washington, including Special Assistant to the President for European Affairs at the National Security Council (1994-97) and State Department Director of Soviet Union Affairs (1988-91). Vershbow received a B.A. in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University and a Master’s in International Relations from Columbia University.


Jane Vaynman is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Temple University. Vaynman’s work focuses on security cooperation between adversarial states, the design of arms control agreements, and the effects of emerging technology on international institutions. She is the co-founder of the Nuclear Studies Research Initiative, a project that promotes intellectual exchange and cross-fertilization for emerging nuclear research in policy, history, and political science. Previously, she was a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and has also held positions with the Elliott School of International Affairs, U.S. Department of State and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She was a Fulbright Fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center in 2006-2007. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University and B.A. in international relations from Stanford University.

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