Summary of Imperial Gamble

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8 Overall

9 Importance

8 Innovation

7 Style


Ukraine’s civil war has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than a million people. The United States imposed tough sanctions on Russia, calling on President Vladimir Putin to halt Russian backing for separatist rebels. Author Marvin Kalb, a veteran journalist who served CBS News and NBC News as chief diplomatic correspondent and Moscow bureau chief, is an expert on national security and United States–Russia relations. He exhorts the West to study the region’s history. Kalb asserts that Western leaders’ ignorance contributed to the morass and that they can help solve it only by gaining a greater understanding of the region and its history. Part primer and part admonishment, Kalb’s overview provides a concise, engaging history of Ukraine and Russia, elucidating this vital, knotty conflict.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Ukraine and Russia have intertwined throughout history,
  • How the Ukrainian civil war began,
  • Why Russian president Vladimir Putin moved into Crimea and Ukraine,
  • What Ukraine should do to achieve peace, and
  • How the West can help.

About the Author

Marvin Kalb is nonresident senior fellow with the foreign policy program at Brookings and senior adviser at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. A veteran journalist, he served CBS News and NBC News as chief diplomatic correspondent and Moscow bureau chief. He’s an expert in national security, with a focus on US relations with Russia, Europe and the Middle East. 



The Occupation of Crimea

On March 1, 2014, Russian forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Within weeks, Russia legally annexed Crimea. Just before the occupation, pro-Russian and pro-Kiev protesters had taken to the streets in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital. Fights broke out, and the violence escalated. Simferopol’s pro-Russian governor requested assistance, and Russia delivered troops. Immediately after occupying Crimea, Russia followed the same playbook by moving into the Donbas region of Ukraine. Rebels there met stiffer resistance. The fighting flared into a civil war, with no end in sight. To assist in ending this bloody conflict, the West needs to understand Ukraine’s history and its relationship with Russia.

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