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Russia’s Threat to Ukraine: The West Responds

January 17 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EST

Russian President Vladimir Putin has placed crosshairs on Ukraine, a country he sees as linked to Russia and the people of Ukraine as “one people” with Russians. To back up this fixation with repairing a “historic injustice” Moscow has amassed a force of over 100,000 troops and supporting armor and aircraft along the border with Ukraine. Leading the West’s response, President Biden has threatened “massive consequences” if Russia invades Ukraine.

American and Russian diplomats are meeting this week. However, the lines are drawn: Putin is demanding an end to NATO’s eastward expansion, include Ukraine, and Biden and the West say there will be a very high economic price to pay as well as increased deployments on NATO’s eastern flank.

What is the context for this provocation and what are the U.S. and Allies prepared to do? Join the American Council on Germany and the Tennessee World Affairs Council for a discussion with former ACG Board member Ambassador John Kornblum about the crisis. Joining us from Berlin, he will also discuss how we got to where we are and what the possible courses of action for the U.S. and Europe might be. The conversation will be led by ACG Young Leader alumnus Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Distinguished Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. This event is held in cooperation with the Belmont University Center for International Business and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ambassador John C. Kornblum has a long record of service in the United States and Europe both as a diplomat and as a businessman. He is recognized as an eminent expert on U.S.-European political and economic relations, in particular in central and eastern Europe. He served as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 1997 to 2001. Before that, he occupied a number of high-level diplomatic posts, including U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, special envoy for the Dayton Peace Process, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Process), Deputy U.S. Ambassador to NATO, and U.S. Minister and Deputy Commandant of Forces in divided Berlin. From 2001 to 2009, he was Chairman of Lazard Freres Germany. He currently serves as Senior Counsellor to the international law firm Noerr LLP and as a senior advisor to the worldwide consultancy Accenture. Ambassador Kornblum has also served on a number of Supervisory and Advisory Boards, including those of ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG, Bayer AG, Russell Reynolds, and Motorola Europe. He is a member of the Boards of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany, the American Academy in Berlin, the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, and of numerous nonprofit organizations on both sides of the Atlantic, and he is a former ACG Board member. He received a B.A. from Michigan State University in 1964, and he has been the recipient of many awards, including a Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit from Germany and an Order of Merit from Austria.

Dr. Thomas Schwartz (1989 ACG Young Leader) is a historian of the foreign relations of the United States, with related interests in American politics, the history of international relations, Modern European history, and biography. His most recent book is Henry Kissinger and American Power: A Political Biography (Hill and Wang, 2020).  Earlier in his career, Schwartz was the author of America’s Germany: John J. McCloy and the Federal Republic of Germany (Harvard, 1991), which was translated into German. This book received the Stuart Bernath Book Prize of the Society of American Foreign Relations, and the Harry S. Truman Book Award, given by the Truman Presidential Library. He is also the author of Lyndon Johnson and Europe: In the Shadow of Vietnam (Harvard, 2003), which examined the Johnson Administration’s policy toward Europe and assessed the impact of the war in Vietnam on its other foreign policy objectives. He is the co-editor with Matthias Schulz of The Strained Alliance: U.S.-European Relations from Nixon to Carter, (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Professor Schwartz has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the German Historical Society, the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for the Study of European Integration. He has served as President of the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations. He served on the United States Department of State’s Historical Advisory Committee as the representative of the Organization of American Historians from 2005-2008. Professor Schwartz received The Madison Sarratt Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching on April 3, 2013, at the Spring Faculty Assembly, Vanderbilt University. In 2008 Professor Schwartz received the Annual Alumni Education Award from the Vanderbilt Alumni Association. Schwartz is the recipient of the 2008 Book Award by Chi Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order. This award is given to a faculty member who has been particularly influential in the lives and education of members of KAO. Professor Schwartz presented, “The Arab Spring: Revolution in the Middle East,” on April 19, 2011, as part of the Samuel L. Shannon Distinguished Lecture Series at Tennessee State University. Professor Schwartz has also presented lectures for the OAH Distinguished Lecturers Program.

Professor Schwartz taught for five years at Harvard University and has been teaching at Vanderbilt since 1990.