Michael Kimmage at The Cambridge Public Library


The Origins of the War in Ukraine
and the New Global Instability

In conversation with SERHII PLOKHY


March 25, 2024
6:00 PM ET


Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138


$0.00 (Free RSVP Required) $31.86 (book included)

Harvard Book Store welcomes MICHAEL KIMMAGE—Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and a Non-resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies—for a discussion of his new book Collisions: The Origins of the War in Ukraine and the New Global Instability. He will be joined in conversation by SERHII PLOKHY—director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.


RSVP for free to this event or choose the "Book-Included" ticket to reserve a copy of Collisions and pick it up at the event. Michael will sign copies of his new book after the presentation.


About Collisions

In Collisions, Michael Kimmage, a historian and former State Department official who focused on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, offers a wide-angle, historically informed account of the origins of the current Russia-Ukraine war. Tracing the development of Ukraine and Russia's fractious relationship back to the end of the Cold War, Kimmage takes readers through the central events that led to Vladimir Putin seizing a large portion of Ukraine--the Crimea--in 2014 and, eight years later, initiating arguably the most intensive military conflict of the entire post-World War II era.

From the halls of power in Washington, Kyiv, and Moscow to the battlefields of Ukraine, Kimmage chronicles Putin's ascendency to the Russian presidency, delves into multiple American presidencies and their dealings with Russia and Europe, and recounts Europe's efforts to bring Ukraine closer to the European Union. He tells the story of how Ukraine went from an embattled country on the edge of Europe to a formidable military power capable of pushing back the Russian military. Just as importantly, Kimmage captures how the current war has transformed multiple centers of power--from China to the United States--and dramatically altered the path of globalization itself. He makes the case that the war in Ukraine has shifted the direction of major macro-trends in world politics, contributing to the fragmentation of international politics, higher inflation, greater food insecurity, and the general collapse of arms control. These intersecting dangers amount to a new age of global instability, born in war and in the collision between Russia and the United States that has brought the world to the brink of a new Cold War.

An authoritative interpretation of possibly the most important geopolitical event of the post-Cold War era, Collisions is essential reading for anyone interested in the origins of this epochal conflict and its ripple effects across the globe.

Praise for Collisions

"The war in Ukraine is now in its third year and policymakers in Washington and around the world are asking, 'How does the war end?' With his timely and incisive new book, Collisions, Michael Kimmage has offered an important predicate question: 'Why did the war begin?' Clearly written and carefully documented, Kimmage explores the origins of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine in the context of their past relations with each other, as well as those with Europe and the United States." —David McKean, Former U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg and former Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State, and author of Watching Darkness Fall: FDR, His Ambassadors, and the Rise of Adolf Hitler

"Drawing on his experiences in both the academic and diplomatic worlds, Michael Kimmage has produced a beautifully written analysis of the Russian invasion of Ukraine-and of the geopolitical false assumptions that it utterly shattered. Highly recommended for both specialists and the general reader." —M.E. Sarotte, author of Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate

"In his wide-ranging account of the three post-Cold War decades, Michael Kimmage places the outbreak of Russia's war against Ukraine in the context of a series of collisions-between Moscow and Kyiv, between the United States and Russia, and between Russian and Europe. These collisions, he argues, were not inevitable, but ultimately acquired a logic of their own, culminating in Putin's decision to go to war. Essential reading for those seeking to understand what went wrong after the collapse of the USSR." —Angela Stent, author of Putin's World: Russia Against the West and with the Rest

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Michael Kimmage
Michael Kimmage

Michael Kimmage

Michael Kimmage is Professor of History at the Catholic University of America and a Non-resident Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. From 2014 to 2016, he served on the Secretary's Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he handled the Ukraine/Russia portfolio. He is the author of The Conservative Turn: Lionel Trilling, Whittaker Chambers, and the Lessons of Anti-Communism and The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy. He writes regularly for Foreign Affairs, the New Republic, and other publications.

Serhii Plokhy
Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy

Serhii Plokhy, Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History and director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, is a leading authority on the history of the Cold War. He is the author of Atoms and Ashes: A Global History of Nuclear Disasters and Nuclear Folly: A History of the Cuban Missile Crisis, among many other works. He lives in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Photo credit: Kristina M. Conroy



Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02138

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