Hill gave everyone a clear directive: “Fight misinformation with information wherever you find it, be it at home, in the classroom, or on the Yard. Putin is carefully working to distort the past and manipulate the current narrative.” She concluded that America and the West need to grasp the distinct situation, or context in Russia, in order to engage with the best strategies to dismantle this effort.
War Returns to Europe: As Russia Invaded, Fiona Hill weighed in on Putin
On February 24 the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES) welcomed Fiona Hill (Ph.D. ‘98) back to Harvard, hosting her for a roundtable discussion with graduate and undergraduate students. Hill, who served three U. S. presidents on the National Security Council and National Intelligence Council, originally planned to lead an informal discussion on Europe and Russia. However, as the day proved to be a somber one – when Russia attacked Ukraine – the conversation transformed into one of historical reflection as a basis for understanding the complexity of the crisis with one of the country’s most eminent experts on this region.
Hill began by articulating the importance of regional studies and commended the students for their pursuit of this academic pathway. She commented that education’s value “is more than understanding the patterns of political science or economic trends, it’s being grounded in the distinct geographical context.” She credited her professional success to her immersion in regional studies and history and reminisced about the day in 1989 when Stanley Hoffmann arrived at her class on the Cold War and announced that the Berlin Wall had fallen.
Hill offered her analysis of Putin’s motivations for the war and the importance of contextualizing it through the lens of historical moments and continuities. She addressed many questions from students, shared insights into her experiences in public service and interactions with Putin, as well as her thoughts about the confrontation between democracy and autocracy.
“Fight misinformation with information wherever you find it, be it at home, in the classroom, or on the Yard. Putin is carefully working to distort the past and manipulate the current narrative.”