Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin loom over geopolitics in a way that few leaders have in decades. Not even Mao and Stalin drove global events the way Xi and Putin do today. Who they are, how they view the world, and what they want are some of the most important and pressing questions in foreign policy and international affairs.
Stephen Kotkin and Orville Schell are two of the best scholars to explore these issues. Kotkin is the author of seminal scholarship on Russia, the Soviet Union, and global history, including an acclaimed three-volume biography of Stalin. He is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Kleinheinz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. Schell is the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. He is the author of 15 books, ten of them about China. He is also a former professor and dean at the University of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
In part one of our conversation, we discuss the early lives of Putin and Xi and how history has shaped their worldviews.
You can find transcripts and more episodes of The Foreign Affairs Interview at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/podcasts/foreign-affairs-interview.