< Distinguished speaker series

Andrew S. Weiss

Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Demystifying Vladimir Putin

DATE: November 29, 2022 6:00 pm

LOCATION: World Trade Center, Baltimore

Event information

As Russia withdrew its troops from Kherson November 11, the man who ordered the war — and annexed that very region weeks earlier — went silent.   Vladimir Putin has cast himself as a man of power who’s cool under fire, but he left it to his military to declare the retreat. 

Can he get away with it? And how did he get to where he is?

Andrew Weiss, one of the most astute Russia analysts in the U.S., demystifies the long-serving autocrat in a new book, Accidental Czar: the Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin. This is a graphic novel in form, an authoritative biography in content. It was published this month.

This is the story of a middle-ranking intelligence operative with a thin resume who rises to power through corrupt wheeling-dealing in St. Petersburg. He works his way into the inner circle of failed reformer Boris Yeltsin. The images are memorable: There’s Putin, the street thug, cornering a rat in a St. Petersburg apartment only to have the rat attack him; Putin at the door of the KGB begging in vain for a job; Putin claiming he single handedly held off a mob in East Germany in 1989 when all he did was call the Russian army for help.

Andrew Weiss has worked as a specialist on Russia in both Republican and Democratic administrations, serving at the White House National Security Council, the State Department and the Pentagon. He’s now vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

He will speak on the theme ‘Demystifying Putin”.


Andrew S. Weiss

James Family Chair & vice president for studies at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Author of Accidental Czar: the Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin

Latest analysis 

What’s Driving Russia’s Opportunistic Inroads With Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs

As the Russian-Ukrainian war continues, Weiss provides interesting commentary on the Russia-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) relations.  

For Putin, the Great Prize Has Always Been Ukraine

Published in November of 2021, Weiss warns of the now-all-too-familiar Russian attack on Ukraine. Weiss analyzes Putin’s grasp on Kyiv, the capital the Kremlin still believes is theirs, and offers an in-depth explanation to Putin’s long-term goals.  

Ukraine: Putin’s Unfinished Business

Published in November of 2021, Weiss warns Russia’s patience with Ukraine is running low. As Putin’s anti-Ukraine rhetoric increased, Weiss’ article discusses the build-up to the possible (now current) invasion.  

Russia Is No Mideast Superpower

Weiss argues that while the U.S. should not be shy about challenging Russian activities in the Middle East, it would be far more beneficial for the U.S. to bolster their advantages in the region instead. 

Sideswiped: Apple, Google, and the Kremlin’s Make-Believe Election

Published a week after Russia’s 2021 election, Weiss calls for tech companies to resist compromising with authoritarian governments, specifically focusing on Apple, Google, and the Kremlin. 

Reassessing Russian Capabilities in the Levant and North Africa

Alongside Frederic Wehrey, Weiss analyzes the question: “Russia may be back in the Middle East, but is it a truly strategic player?” 

Why Isn’t Russia Talking About Great Power Competition?

Instead of discussing great power competition, Russia clings to its grievances caused by the West. Weiss’ commentary from May of 2021 answers why. 

Managing Russia’s Ambitions – From Hardware to Holism: Rebalancing America’s Security Engagement With Arab States 

An in-depth research, Weiss examines Russia’s resurgence in the Middle East. 

New Tools, Old Tricks: Emerging Technologies and Russia’s Global Tool Kit

Weiss’ paper from April of 2021 discusses the Kremlin’s tool kit as technologies, like AI and deepfake forgeries, continue to grow. 

Back to Basics on Russia Policy

Published roughly a year before the Russian attack on Ukraine in February, Weiss’s article argues the best approach to the challenges between the two sides of the transatlantic community.

Accidental Czar: the Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin

“This riveting graphic novel biography chronicles Vladimir Putin’s rise from a mid-level KGB officer to the autocratic leader of Russia and reveals the truth behind the strongman persona he has spent his career cultivating.

In the West’s collective imagination, Vladimir Putin is a devious cartoon villain, constantly plotting and scheming to destroy his enemies around the globe and in Ukraine. But how did an undistinguished mid-level KGB officer become one of the most powerful leaders in Russian history? And how much of Putin’s tough-guy persona is a calculated performance?

In Accidental Czar, Andrew S. Weiss, a former White House Russia expert, and Brian “Box” Brown show how Putin has successfully cast himself as a cunning, larger-than-life political mastermind—and how the rest of the world has played into the Kremlin’s hands by treating him as one. They shatter all of these myths and expose the man behind the façade.”

Praises for Accidental Czar

Accidental Czar is an absorbing and visually stunning account of Vladimir Putin’s rise and take-no-prisoners approach to wielding power on the world stage. Andrew S. Weiss and Brian Brown have made one of the most consequential stories of our time more accessible and engaging for readers of all backgrounds. I would urge anyone who wants to better understand the forces shaping modern Russia, and disrupting our world, to open up this extraordinary book.” —Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright

“Vladimir Putin has often presented himself as a cartoonish image of a strongman, so it is brilliantly fitting that Accidental Czar uses the graphic form to tell the true story behind the caricature Putin has spent the last two decades cultivating. Bravo!” —Susan B. Glasser, staff writer at the New Yorker, former Washington Post bureau chief in Moscow, and co-author of Kremlin Rising: Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the End of Revolution

To purchase his book, visit https://us.macmillan.com/books  /9781250760753/accidentalczar