The founder of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and Russia in Global Affairs, our patron, inspirer, and indefatigable organizer of all our victories and achievements, Sergei Aleksandrovich Karaganov, is turning 70! Our editorial office has received a whole bunch of congratulations on this occasion from all over the world. We publish them as a sign of admiration for our mentor.
Dear Sergei Aleksandrovich,
An analyst of geopolitical designs, a cheerful navigator of lost ships, and a men’s fashion trendsetter in the post-Soviet beau monde, you have turned out (quite unexpectedly for me) a dear friend of the Memory Foundation―the memory of the past, without which one cannot sail into the desired future.
Please be healthy, sparkle as always, and do not lose the healing and optimistic tone of your formidable analyses.
Natalia Solzhenitsyna, President of the Solzhenitsyn Foundation; Member of the Board, Foundation for Perpetuating the Memory of Victims of Political Repression
Karaganov means Black Khan but it is not “black color”: it means “North” in the Mongol direction matrix (Blue is east, white west …)
Sergei really is a Northern khan and a batyr (hero) too: just a few years ago he went bear hunting in Kamchatka from Vladivostok, while I too was in Vladi but had to go back to Tokyo with Abe, another batyr.
As a strategist Karaganov is… courageous. Under all regimes, I never heard him say anything that was not his own individual thought.
I send these few words but would much prefer to share a drink with him and a few thoughts in these hard days.
Edward N. Luttwak, Senior Associate, Center for International and Strategic Studies (CSIS)
Professor Sergei A. Karaganov stands out prominently among his contemporary colleagues both at home and abroad. He has undergone through such landmark periods as the Cold War, Post-Cold War and the present time of turbulences and transformations with intellectual, conceptual, and practical contributions to his country and the world alike. Professor Karaganov does not only delve into his research fields but also plays a leading role to pool global wisdom in understanding the nature of the mega-trends and possible solutions to the companying challenges. His professional combination of economic, strategic, and political research has been part of the scholarly elevation of international studies at our time. Moreover, his relentless efforts to make multiple interaction between the academic, business, media and governmental circles are both meaningful at present and influential in the future. At present critical juncture, we indeed need more of his insights, broad-mindedness and forward-looking visions so as to make sure that we on the right track when moving forward.
Jiemian Yang, Senior Fellow and Chairman of Academic Advisory Council of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies
I wish to congratulate with heartfelt wishes Sergei Karaganov for his seventieth birthday.
We have known each other for more than two decades and developed, I believe, a very good relationship based on deep personal feelings. I have always respected his patriotism and admired his will to work for improving what used to be called East-West relations; as well as his exceptional networking and organizational capabilities to that end. But people like the two of us know that History is tragic. They have not been able to prevent the catastrophic confrontational process that will put an end to globalization and possibly pave the way toward an unintended third world war.
I wish that in his next ten years as an elder wise man who―like our common friend Henry Kissinger―knows that statesmanship starts with sound political reasoning, Sergei will continue to interact in a positive manner with some of his Russian and Western colleagues to give a chance to restore a sense of positive-sum game in the realm of the European common house.
Long life Sergei!
Thierry de Montbrial, Director of the French Institute of International Relations; Member of Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, Institut de France; Founder and Chairman of the World Policy Conference (WPC), France
Happy birthday, Sergei Karaganov!
I can’t believe he is already seventy. I would say thirty-five, no more. But, be that as it may, we in India say: live another thousand full moons and more!
I first met Sergei ten years ago, and it was in a completely different world. The irony is that I was introduced to him by an American, Ambassador Robert Blackville. The three of us were members of the Academic Supervisory Board at Nazarbayev University. For two years, gathering in Almaty, we talked not only about the curricula or how to reorganize the university, but also about the world we lived in and how it was changing.
What struck me in Sergei’s reflections, spelled out in his articles, was how much he was focused on Europe and Eurasia at that time. India was almost completely absent from his intellectual horizon. As an Indian, I believed my mission was to get him interested in my country, make him take it more seriously. In 2018, I invited him to India to give a lecture on Russia’s perspective of the world, and at the same time give him an opportunity to see India of the 21st century. My efforts served their purpose.
Today, looking at the world we all have found ourselves in, I note with satisfaction that India understands Russia much better, and Russia pays significantly more attention to India. Sergei offers us his vision of a rapidly changing world, and I have learned a lot from his works. I hope he will continue to educate the new Russian generation about how India is changing, and about the role that Russia and India can play in the emerging multipolar world.
In fact, I would prefer to designate the emerging balance of power as ‘bi-multipolarity.’ The United States and China seek to maintain their position as the dominant global powers. But they will have to take into account the views of independent players such as Russia, India, France, Germany, Turkey, also probably Japan, Indonesia, and other countries that value their strategic autonomy.
Many happy returns, Sergei, and I hope to read your works for many more years.
Sanjaya Baru, Distinguished Fellow, United Services Institution of India
Bright, boisterous, young, talented, and irresistible to women, which slightly annoys men. All this is Sergei Karaganov! He has “suddenly” turned 70.
I have the impression that I have always known Sergei. In fact, over the past three decades he has been broking with his unusual ideas into my schedule, which is also far from ordinary, with enviable regularity. He makes his “incursions” either by phone, or at gatherings with mutual acquaintances, or simply during a spontaneous meeting in corridors of power or in the theater lobby. And each time it is always followed up by a seminar, co-participation in a conference, a joint trip, and sometimes even a long-term project.
In the 1970s-1980s, Sergei and I knew each other just cursorily. We had heard about each other. He was from a galaxy of young geniuses at the Institute for the U.S. and Canadian Studies, and I worked in the prestigious but mysterious Soviet MGIMO Institute and, in fact, in the Foreign Ministry.
In the 1990s, the foreign policy sphere was the focal point of discussions and numerous public projects, as well as a platform for competition between party leaders and opinions. Sergei Karaganov, with his indisputable professionalism, linguistic skills, and connections in the academic world, literally made a hit. No matter what Sergei’s positions were called, what is important is that both back then and now he was and is perceived as a symbol of foreign policy expertise by everyone, from intelligent laymen to top government officials.
At a time when television was a means of transmitting intellectual information, Sergei’s natural telegenicity and deliberately exaggerated aestheticism made him a real star. I think that the striving for greatness and the desire for freedom traditionally struggle in Sergei. Roughly speaking, it was in his power not only to “try on” any foreign ministry position, but also to keep it. I remember we held a big international event at MGIMO in the first half of the 1990s and waited a long time for the then minister of foreign affairs. At my request, Karaganov, as a participant in the event, filled in time by telling more and more smart things to the audience. Just minutes before the minister arrived, a student, impressed by Karaganov’s speech, stood up and asked a rhetorical question: “Sergei Aleksandrovich, why is Kozyrev the minister of foreign affairs and not you?”
Indeed, the scale of the concepts and projects conceived by Sergei has been truly ministerial. Karaganov played a huge role in building the Russian-American relationship in the post-bipolar period. I know what I say because I was his colleague in high-level expert groups, which were at the peak of their activity during Clinton’s presidency. Karaganov sincerely converted his original Euro-optimism into the development of relations between Russia and the EU, and his personal connections helped build unique channels of communication with Germany and France… (It is not his fault that by some quirk of fate this valuable heritage of professionals has been misused.) There is not a single foreign policy community institution in Russia where Sergei Karaganov has not put in his organizational and intellectual effort. These include the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, the Valdai Discussion Club, and, of course, the journal Russia in Global Affairs.
Any leader of our generation was assessed by the ability to work with corporations and attract Russian business into their projects. Obviously, Sergei Karaganov has mastered these skills better than many. Sergei’s academic brainchild is the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, which has become a worthy partner for my university―MGIMO―and a benchmark for a large number of faculties and universities in Russia.
I am sure that Sergei will use his anniversary to start another big project to be gladly supported by his associates and friends.
Anatoly Torkunov, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Rector of MGIMO, Russian Foreign Ministry
When Sergei Aleksandrovich and I became friends, we were both much younger, and, until recently, living in what seemed a different world. He was the bright, rising young analyst in Georgy Arbatov’s Institute of USA and Canada, focused on the arms control dimension of European security, in particular, as I recall, the negotiations surrounding the Mutual Balanced Force Reduction (MBFR) treaty. The conversations we had at the Institute were the first among the many that would follow at conferences in Russia, the United States and Europe, during his time at the Institute for Europe, and as he shared plans for the Valdai Club. In these encounters, his ideas were always bold and well-defended and overtime increasingly audacious and original.
In the 1970s we were young analysts trying to find ways to exploit cracks that seemed to be opening in a waning but still volatile Cold War; in the Gorbachev period we, as many of our colleagues, were caught up in the excitement of developing ideas for ending the Cold War and what might then follow. With Russian independence, I was intrigued as Sergei’s attention focused on strengthening ties between Russia and Europe, lest each alone be overshadowed by the United States, the remaining superpower, and a rising China. And I followed with interest, when he, ahead of most, began stressing the need for Russia to develop its Asian option. Amidst these shifting currents, when a group of us under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts Sciences prepared a report urging United States to rethink its Russia policy done on the eve of the Obama administration’s “reset” policy, Sergei enthusiastically seized on the initiative and, at a time when skepticism over the prospects of a reset in relations reigned in Moscow, he invited our group to Moscow to discuss the parallel report on rethinking Russia’s U.S. policy that he prepared.
Over these years I also marveled at his energy and resourcefulness in the many important organizations that he either created or helped launch, such as the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and the Valdai Club; the many boards at home and abroad he well served; and ultimately the program that he built as Dean of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs at the Higher School of Economics. It has been, for a young man that I met a half lifetime ago, a rich and remarkable career filled with accomplishments—accomplishments that have given him a large voice in the affairs of his country.
As a result of the tragic events that now divide our two countries, I feel more than a little melancholy that Sergei’s and my views on what went wrong and why diverge so dramatically, but I take comfort knowing that always in the past when we disagreed, at a more fundamental level, we shared a common desire to find a better road forward for relations between our two countries.
So, it gives me great pleasure to toast my friend Sergei Aleksandrovich, to congratulate him on his 70th birthday, and to wish him many more to come.
Robert Legvold, Professor Emeritus at the Department of Political Science, Columbia University, New York, USA
A public intellectual must be viewed and evaluated primarily against the backdrop of his/her time and place and his/her intervention in them. By that criterion Sergei Karaganov is an intellectual hero.
Russia was a fertile seedbed of ideas for centuries and some of those seeds had carried to all corners of the world, inspiring humans in individual and collective endeavor. There was one brief exception, a period in which nothing intellectually worthwhile seemed to come out of Russia, and Russia itself became the mere object, not a subject of history―both world history and its own.
In that exceptional period of the 1990s, the period of post-Cold War unipolarity and neoliberalism in the world order, the period of absolute western ideological hegemony, Russia had many intellectual serfs and few intellectual heroes. Two such heroes stood out in sharp relief, their work distinct from but not opposed to each other: Yevgeny Primakov and Sergei Karaganov. While the former charted a survivalist foreign policy and grand strategy for a shrunken Russia seemingly in free-fall, Karaganov grappled conceptually and practically with the profound crisis of the Russian state within the asymmetric and hierarchical global matrix.
Karaganov is a thinker and a fighter, a sage and a gladiator. He fought to reverse the decline of the Russian state, by combining conceptual combat with search and research; searching and seeing a road forward, which, dialectically speaking, was also a road for a comeback. Sergei Karaganov stood at the interface of policy and praxis, creating forums, bringing together those who wanted to reverse Russia’s decline, launching initiatives of intellectual and policy intervention.
In these current times, if there had been an Armand Hammer, the American multimillionaire who took the risk of visiting Lenin’s Russia and establishing a relationship to explore the business possibilities afforded by the New Economic Policy (NEP), he would have been prosecuted in his home country. The West which during the Cold War assiduously cultivated relations with the artistic-cultural community of Russia in the interests of opening-up and softening-up Russia, does the exact opposite today, using a policy of quasi-apartheid to blockade artistic-cultural contacts. Western militaries play over the horizon roles in targeting Russian soldiers and fighting proxy wars explicitly aimed at defeating Russia and weakening it beyond recovery. The Economist (London) once termed the “most intelligent defender of capitalism” by Marx for its sober sagacity, carries essays on Russia as a Fascist state and society!
As Sergei Karaganov celebrates his 70th birth anniversary, history calls him to act yet again, to give intellectual leadership, to use all the years of reflection on Russia and the world order, to do what he does best in times of crisis, namely, to play a ‘vanguard’ role, grappling with that most Russian of contributions to universal political science―the question “What is to be done?”
I offer my best wishes to this remarkable thinker, one of the most unforgettable and engaging personalities I have had the good fortune to interact with anywhere, on his 70th birthday.
Dayan Jayatilleka, Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the Russian Federation
Dear Sergei Aleksandrovich,
Welcome to the Mature Men’s Club!
You are one of the most outstanding and authoritative Russian figures in the field of science and education who deal with international relations and the world economy. Your extraordinary achievements, truly patriotic and scientific, are indisputable. They have been deservedly recognized by statesmen, politicians, diplomats, and the military in our country and abroad.
Your contribution to the socio-political life of Russia is quite significant. Suffice it to recall, as a vivid example, your special role as the creator and long-standing head of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.
You have many worthy students and disciples.
My best heartfelt congratulations on your seventieth birthday!
Andrei Kokoshin, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Sergei Karaganov is in many respects an outstanding and unique academic. He is outstanding, having constantly been in the limelight of attention throughout Russia’s post-Soviet history, analyzing, commenting (and criticizing) its (foreign) politics. He is unique because due to his candor and his propensity for bold statements he managed to coin paradigms which in parts of the West became famous as Karaganov doctrines. And contrary to most other pundits in Moscow he truly made an impact in politics―in light of most recent developments possibly too much of an impact.
Yet―contrary to widely held perceptions―Sergei has been quite consistent throughout the 35 years we have known and been close to each other. When we first met during the heydays of perestroika and glasnost he belonged to the group of young institutniki who were longing for fundamental change in the country to unleash its productive forces (as it was called back then). This implied, as Sergei often emphasized, among other Western accomplishments … clean toilets. At least it was clean toilets to which he frequently referred to as the major achievement of the opening. Be it as it may, the way how this basic human need is being dealt with in fact tells a lot about a country’s society, culture, and economic conditions. And there was obviously a basic incompatibility with the Soviet system which consequently perished―much welcomed by Sergei.
However, the demise of the Soviet system had an unwelcome side effect, the demise of the Soviet Union, the superpower on par with the United States―much to the dismay of Sergei. As a true patriot and derzhavnik, he believed his mission was to get Russia back to where it ought to be in his deeply held conviction: among the ranks of the few truly sovereign great powers. Hence he rebuked the West for pounding out much advice but only little material support during the initial stages of the painful Russian transformation process. In the same vein he condemned the West for lack of respect, with NATO expansion being the main culprit. And throughout the 1990s and well into the 2000s he was equally critical of the own elite for lack of strategic foresight and self-serving interests.
He tirelessly worked for Russia to again become a great power. This role was rooted, as he time and again put it, deep in Russia’s genes. Genes, however, do not need a rationale but transform ambition into destiny. Consequently, the West, once welcomed, turned into the main foe with the danger of war looming at the horizon which he initially feared, later expected and finally advocated―much to my regret.
Yet it remains to be seen whether the belligerent course on which Russia has embarked really helps acquiring the long-sought place at the sun as great power in the aspired new world order. I personally doubt it. And here too we have to take note of an unwelcome side effect as the freedom sought after even earlier is certainly gone for good. Moreover, we eventually have come full circle and are back to square one. I wonder what this means for the toilets.
Hans-Joachim Spanger, Member of the Executive Board and Head of Research Department “Governance and Societal Peace”, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Germany
I first met Sergei more than thirty years ago. Even then he was a bright star in Russia’s foreign policy firmament, a blunt-speaking, hard-nosed, combative intellect with an entrepreneurial flair. You have to listen to Sergei if you want to know where Russia is tending, especially now as he lays out the challenges and opportunities of Russia’s pivot to the East. And we have in the United States, where he has had an outsized influence on the way we think about Russia and the future of U.S.-Russian relations.
I have not always agreed with Sergei’s assessment of global trends, Russia’s interests, and the possibilities for U.S.-Russian relations. But I have always valued the views of someone whose patriotism and concern for Russia’s well-being is undoubted.
Thomas Graham, Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, USA
Two lifetime monuments, quite deserved, are a truly outstanding achievement. This is especially so since both are unique.
The first one is a monument to Hope, a hope for the ultimate victory of Sense over Chaos. The embodiment of this hope is the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (CFDP) created by Sergei. Different at different times, this body keeps its leading place in the quest for Russia’s optimal identification in the changing space, time, and circumstances. The CFDP is a collective enterprise, of course, but, above all, it is Karaganov’s personal turf. It was Karaganov who gave the Council its own, distinct combination of vision for novelty and glossed pertness that excite the public and arouse interest in its work.
The second monument is a monument to Conscience. I mean a specific and visible monument to the victims of Soviet political repression. Sergei played an extremely big and invaluable role in lending a practical, business-like dimension to this “eternal idea.” The descendants of the victims and, together with them, all citizens of the country with unwavering honor, memory and compassion should be grateful to him for this truly historical and noble deed.
Sergei is a happy person. Behind are his full and rewarding youth and already two outstanding monuments, and ahead is a whole era of wisdom!
Vladimir Lukin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary; Research Professor at the Higher School of Economics
Sergei Karaganov and I studied at Lomonosov Moscow State University at the same time and even defended our dissertations in the same year of 1979. But we met in person much later, at one of the meetings of the Valdai Discussion Club. Needless to say, I had heard a lot about him and by that time had already repeatedly quoted Karaganov’s deep thoughts and reasoned conclusions in a number of my works. He always states his thoughts most clearly, but, apart from that, I have always admired how he takes the bull by the horns, clearly and unequivocally expressing his views on the most pressing problems of the modern world.
I developed a newfound respect for Sergei Aleksandrovich after his comments about one of my recent books, when he said that the only book he had read cover to cover before mine was that of Henry Kissinger. This is not just a pleasant trifle for the author. After all, Karaganov belongs to the galaxy of thinkers, who, instead of creating abstract theories about the end of history through the global triumph of either communism or liberal democracy, not only seek, but sometimes find correct responses to the constant challenges arising from utopian attempts to straighten, as philosopher Isaiah Berlin said, “the crooked timber of humanity.”
I wish you good health and further creative drive, dear Sergei Aleksandrovich.
Rein Müllerson, Honorary Professor of Law, University of Tallinn
Dear Sergei Aleksandrovich,
I wish you only the very best on your 70th. Yes, it coincides with a dramatic moment in the interstate relations involving your country and mine. It is tempting to reduce everything to what governments do. But your jubilee is a timely reminder that there is a human component to what happens in the public sphere. We are and must be individuals with a point of view. You have shown time and again that you are not only qualified to articulate a firm position on public issues, but you engage in conversation with others, inside the country and without. Your positions have been firm in the short term―firm but always with an element of wit―but flexible in the middle and long term. In short, you have learned from experience, as you see it, and have put forward positions consistent with what you have seen. In many years of dialogue with you and your team, I have always been struck by not only your energy in putting forth a point of view but your civility and respect for other points of view, mine included. This will only be more important in the difficult times ahead. I sincerely hope you will continue in good health to engage in the discussions and debates to come.
Timothy J. Colton, Professor of Government and Russian Studies, Harvard University
Dear Sergei Aleksandrovich,
The world has changed many times over the past thirty years. Hardly had the modern generation adapted to the changes that began at the end of the 20th century, as that changed world started to rapidly transform and change again. At a time of such global change, the mind, intelligence, knowledge, and experience of leading thinkers are needed more than ever. In this period of dire changes that have swept the entire Eurasia, your research and academic works and your understanding of the cultural and civilizational peculiarities of our vast region have relentlessly had a significant influence on the contemporary intellectuals’ thinking. Your knowledge and wisdom enhanced by years of experience will continue to help us find ways to bring peace and sober understanding back to our continent.
Against the background of world cataclysms―before and now―our vast space from East Asia to Eastern Europe has, in fact, always remained an arena of inter-civilizational interaction, which has experienced both difficult times and periods of passionate jolts. From time immemorial, the Great Steppe, represented by the Xiongnu, the Karakhanids or the Chingisids of the Golden Horde, looked for new forms of relationship between neighboring ethnic groups, cultures, and religious communities within this large region. Ultimately, they led it to growth and progress, which required an optimal balance and stability. Being aware of this Eurasian feature, Genghis Khan closely listened to the recommendations of wise Buddhist adviser Yelü Chucai and, following them, helped preserve harmony.
This story remains instructive to this day. Respect for wisdom has always ensured continuity under the continent’s majestic tengri (heaven). So, let me stress once again the importance of your future research and wish you, Sergei Aleksandrovich, further success in your fruitful academic and practical work.
I cordially congratulate you on your anniversary and wish the best of health and well-being to you and your family!
Tsogtbaatar Damdin, Member of the People’s Great Khural of Mongolia
“Sergei Karaganov directs his gaze beyond this week’s headlines, beyond this month’s conventional wisdom, beyond this year’s expert opinion. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, Sergei is compelled by a search for the strategic reality behind the third mountain range, while most concentrate on the faint footprints just outside their door.
This has led him sometimes up policy box canyons, sometimes to substantive wastelands. But Sergei understands that to take such intellectual risks is the core of strategic inquiry, as the faint heart mumble under their bureaucratic beds. He never pauses in his quest for the essence of Russia to be necessarily expressed through its foreign policies because, as Gogol reported, “There is always powder in his flasks.”
Robert D. Blackwill, the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations; Member of Harvard Kennedy School’s Applied History Project
Sergei Aleksandrovich Karaganov is one of the few thinkers who can be considered a learned person not only of tomorrow, but also of the day after tomorrow. If we divide time into four periods―yesterday, today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow―then his statements and analysis are intended more for tomorrow, but he is able to make projections for the day after tomorrow as well. This quality is very important in the current unstable international political environment.
My friendship with Professor Karaganov began in 2008 at the Valdai Forum and developed in different directions. Thanks to the teaching at the Faculty of World Economics and International Affairs of the Higher School of Economics, which became possible with his support and help, we could often see each other, and I always benefited from his articles and statements.
Karaganov also played a prominent role in promoting Oriental studies in Russia, which is another roof of his ability to foresee things.
I wish him health and long life.
Mehdi Sanaei, Assistant Professor, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran; Head of the Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies