Mikhail Zygar’s War and Punishment: The Path to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine


Mikhail Zygar featured image

Watch the archive of this program featuring independent Russian Journalist Mikhail Zygar

As soon as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Mikhail Zygar circulated a Facebook petition signed first by hundreds of his cultural and journalistic contacts and then by thousands of others. That act led to a new law in Russia criminalizing criticism of the war, and Zygar fled Russia. In his time as a journalist, Zygar has interviewed President Zelensky and had access to many of the major players—from politicians to oligarchs. As an expert on Putin’s moods and behavior, he has spent years studying the Kremlin’s plan regarding Ukraine, and here, in clear, chronological order he explains how we got here.


In 1996 to 2004, Ukraine became an independent post-Soviet country where everyone was connected to the former empire at all levels, financially, culturally, psychologically. However, the elite anticipated that the empire would be back and punish them. From 2004 to 2018, there were many states inside one state, each with its own rulers/oligarchs and its own interests—some of them directly connected with Russia. In 2018, a new generation of Ukrainians arrive, and having grown in an independent country, they do not consider themselves to be part of Russia—and that was the moment when the war began, as Putin could not tolerate losing Ukraine forever.


Authoritative, timely, and vitally important, this is an unique overview of the war that continues to threaten the future of the entire world as we know it.


Join us for a conversation with “one of Russia’s smartest and best-sourced young journalists” (The New York Times)— War and Punishment is the first work by a Russian author to reveal his country’s history of oppressing Ukraine, providing an unprecedented overview of the war for Ukrainian independence that affects us all. The program will be moderated by Joel Westphal, Deputy Director of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.


Author Biography: Mikhail Zygar worked for Newsweek Russia and the business daily Kommersant, covering the conflicts in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Serbia, and Kosovo before becoming founding editor in chief of Russia’s only independent news TV channel, Dozhd, which provided an alternative to Kremlin-controlled federal TV channels and gave a platform to opposition voices. He won the International Press Freedom Award in 2014. He is the author of All the Kremlin’s Men, a #1 bestseller in Russia that has been translated into over twenty languages and was called one of “nine books that can help you understand Russia right now” by Time magazine, and The Empire Must Die, a Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of the Year.


This program is jointly supported by the Gerald R. Ford Museum, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at GVSU.



Foundation Logo Black Signature

HC full black