Richard Sakwa

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Richard Sakwa at the IEIS conference "Russia and the EU: the question of trust" (28–29 November 2014)

Richard Sakwa (born 1953) is a British political scientist and a former Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and an Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Political Science at Moscow State University.[1] He has written books about Russian, Central and Eastern European communist and post-communist politics.


Sakwa is Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent. From 2001 to 2007 he was also the head of the University's Politics and International Relations department. He has published on Soviet, Russian and post-communist affairs, and has written and edited several books and articles on the subject.[2][3]

Sakwa was a participant of Valdai Discussion Club, an Associate Fellow of the Russia and Eurasia Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, a member of the Advisory Boards of the Institute of Law and Public Policy in Moscow and a member of Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences.[2] He is a commentator for RT and has spoken at Stop The War Coalition events.[4][5]

His book Frontline Ukraine is about the origins of the Russo-Ukrainian War. It argues that the conflicts in the post-Soviet space are caused by the expansionism of western/Atlanticist "Wider Europe" and the revanchist aggression of Eastern European states, with the USA and NATO sparking a new Cold War. The book cautions against European security becoming “hostage to a faraway country”, Ukraine. Sakwa argues that it is “wrong-headed in conceptualization and dangerous in its consequences” to describe Russia as expansionist: “Russia under Putin is not a land-grabbing state, it is a profoundly conservative power and its actions are designed to maintain the status quo... [Russia] makes no claim to revise the existing international order, but to make it more inclusive and universal.” Sakwa argues that Russia's wars with Georgia are defensive wars against NATO expansionism.[6]

His 2021 book Deception argues that investigations into Russiagate were politically biased and based on unverified documents.[7]


Sakwa's 2015 book Frontline Ukraine was described in review as "the geopolitical reading favoured by Putin that Russia was reacting to the westwards expansion of NATO".[8] The book was well-received by Noam Chomsky, a major figure in analytic philosophy,[9] historian Paul Robinson[10] and political scientist Serhiy Kudelia.[11] Taras Kuzio criticised Sakwa for what he saw as pro-Russian bias and lack of expertise on Ukraine,[12] and has described him as a "pro-Putin scholar".[13] Sarah Lain of the Royal United Services Institute describes Sakwa has essentially providing the Russian perspective on the Ukraine conflict.[14] A review in the Journal of Ukrainian Studies describes Frontline Ukraine as "openly polemical" and a "one-sided treatment of contemporary Russian politics and of Putin’s regime".[6] Paul D'Anieri describes it as "a polemical attack on Western policy... and a defense of Russia... Sakwa clearly sympathizes with Russia's position."[15]

Michael Rochlitz, an associate fellow at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, described Sakwa's 2020 book Putin Redux, which is about Vladimir Putin, as 'detailed, balanced and sober'.[16]

Published works[edit]


  • Deception: Russiagate and the New Cold War (Lexington Books, 2021)
  • The Putin Paradox, (I.B. Tauris, 2020) [ISBN 978-1-788-31830-3 paperback][17]
  • Developments in Russian Politics, Ninth Edition, (Red Globe Press, 2018).
  • Russia Against the Rest: The Post-Cold War Crisis of World Order (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
  • Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (I B Tauris, 2015) ISBN 978-1-78453-064-8
  • The Crisis of Russian Democracy: The Dual State, Factionalism and the Medvedev Succession (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2011). [ISBN 978-0-521-76842-9 (hbk); ISBN 978-0-521-14522-0 (pbk)]
  • Communism in Russia: An Interpretative Essay (Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. vii + 167. [ISBN 978-0-333-60679-7 paperback]
Russian edition: Коммунизм в России: интерпретирующее эссе. — М.: РОССПЭН, 2011. — 160 с. — (История сталинизма). — ISBN 978-5-8243-1596-7.

Fifth Edition (2021).

Putin: El Elegido de Rusia (Madrid, Ediciones Folio, S.A., 2005). ISBN 84-413-2251-1
  • The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union, in the Routledge Sources in History series, General Editor: David Welch, Professor of Modern History, UKC (London, Routledge, 1999), pp.xxi + 521. [ISBN (hbk) 0-415-12289; (pbk) 0-415-12290-2] A book of annotated documents charting the political and moral trajectory of communism in the USSR.
  • Postcommunism, in the series Concepts in the Social Sciences, General Editor Frank Parkin (Buckingham and Philadelphia, Open University Press, 1999), pp. 144. [ISBN 0-335-20058-3 (hbk); ISBN 0-335-20057-5 (pbk)] Translated into Portuguese as O Pós-comunismo (Lisbon, Instituto Piaget, 2001), pp. 203. ISBN 972-771-443-9. Spanish translation went to press in September 2004.
  • Soviet Politics in Perspective, Second fully reworked edition of Soviet Politics: An Introduction (London, Routledge, October 1998), pp. xiii + 355. [ISBN 0-415-16992-5 (hbk); ISBN 0-415-07153-4 (pbk)]
  • Gorbachev and His Reforms, 198590 (London, Philip Allan/Simon and Schuster, October 1990; Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall, February 1991), pp. xiv + 459. [0-86003-423-2 (hbk); 0-86003-723-1 (pbk)]
  • Soviet Politics: An Introduction (London and New York, Routledge, June 1989), pp. xvi + 356. [ISBN 0-415-00505-1 (hbk); ISBN 0-415-00506-X (pbk)]
  • Soviet Communists in Power: A Study of Moscow During the Civil War, 1918–21 (London, Macmillan, July 1988; New York, St Martins, 1988), pp. xxii + 342. [0-333-39847-5]


  1. ^ "Richard Sakwa". Valdai Club.
  2. ^ a b "Professor Richard Sakwa". University of Kent. 19 May 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  3. ^ Richard Sakwa, ed. (2005). Chechnya: From Past to Future. Anthem Press. ISBN 978-1-84331-164-5.
  4. ^ Morrison, Hamish (10 February 2022). "Boris Johnson using Ukraine crisis to 'distract from implosion of premiership'". The National. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  5. ^ Mason, Paul (2 March 2022). "The Labour left needs to get serious on defence". New Statesman. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  6. ^ a b Kravchenko, Volodymyr (15 February 2016). "Frontline Ukraine". East/West: Journal of Ukrainian Studies. University of Alberta Libraries. 3 (1): 155. doi:10.21226/t2v88w. ISSN 2292-7956.
  7. ^ Lipman, Maria (31 March 2022). "Deception: Russiagate and the New Cold War". Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  8. ^ Whitmore, Brian (3 June 2016). "The Morning Vertical, June 3, 2016". RFE/RL. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  9. ^ "American Power Under Challenge". 8 May 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  10. ^ Robinson, Paul (20 May 2015). "Review – Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands". Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  11. ^ Kudelia, Serhiy (11 February 2015). "Book review: Richard Sakwa, 'Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands'". open Democracy. Retrieved 2 January 2020.
  12. ^ Kuzio, Taras (21 June 2016). "When an academic ignores inconvenient facts". New Eastern Europe. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  13. ^ "The British Left's affinity for Russian imperial lies - A bimonthly news magazine dedicated to Central and Eastern European affairs". New Eastern Europe - A bimonthly news magazine dedicated to Central and Eastern European affairs. 4 February 2019. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  14. ^ Lain, Sarah (4 May 2015). "Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands". The RUSI Journal. Informa UK Limited. 160 (3): 91–92. doi:10.1080/03071847.2015.1054737. ISSN 0307-1847.
  15. ^ D'ANIERI, PAUL (8 June 2016). "Ukraine, Russia, and the West: The Battle over Blame". The Russian Review. Wiley. 75 (3): 498–503. doi:10.1111/russ.12087. ISSN 0036-0341.
  16. ^ Rochlitz, Michael (2016). "Book Review: Richard Sakwa, Putin Redux: Power and Contradiction in Contemporary Russia". Political Studies Review. 14 (2): 298. doi:10.1177/1478929916630921l. S2CID 148402701.
  17. ^ "The Putin Paradox". Bloomsbury. Retrieved 22 April 2022.

External links[edit]

Media related to Richard Sakwa at Wikimedia Commons