The Return of History: The Russo-Ukrainian War Through the Eyes of a Historian

A Talk by Harvard Historian Serhii Plokhii

Monday, September 26, 2022 3:00 PM to 4:15 PM EDT

Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the start of the largest European conflict since the end of World War II came as a shock to the world at large. Putin’s de facto declaration of war on Ukraine, delivered in conjunction with his official recognition of the independence of the puppet states created by Russia in eastern Ukraine, was dubbed a history lecture, and few observers outside Russia could make sense of it. How important have been the misuse and abuse of history in the perpetration and justification of this war, and what are the actual historical causes of the conflict?  The lecture will provide answers to these and other related questions by tracing the origins of the newest European war and explaining the reasons for the return of the Cold War to the very same part of the world where it ended thirty years earlier.


Serhii Plokhii is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University. A leading authority on Ukraine, Russia, and Eastern Europe, he has published extensively on the international history of World War II and the Cold War. His books won numerous awards, including the Lionel Gelber Prize for the best English-language book on the international relations and the Ballie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction (UK). His latest book, Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear Disasters was released by W.W. Norton in US and penguin in UK in May 2022.


This lecture is part of George Mason University's Fall 2022 Lecture Series, "Russia's War on Ukraine in Historical Perspective." For other events and information on the series, visit the main series page

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