The current state of the U.S.-Russia relationship, marked by recent disintegration of traditional areas of cooperation and increasingly hostile rhetoric, has come into sharp focus since Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Hopes for a potential “thaw” floated by the Trump administration and hailed by the Kremlin, never came to be realized, doomed by the latter’s interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. These critical developments, taken in a broader international context (e.g. the surge of new authoritarianism and identity politics, the hollowing-out of conventional political institutions and diminishing of public trust), make the demand for new foreign policy ideas backed up by quality political expertise all the more dire. Still, the markets for Russia experts in the U.S. and for U.S. experts in Russia seem to be failing to adequately satisfy this demand. This study will examine these markets in the context of the U.S.-Russia relations with a specific focus on the roles of experts as intellectual authority. As some observers have recently argued that the expertise as such source of authority is “dead” (Nichols, 2018), whereas others blame experts for their lack of “skin in the game” (Taleb, 2017), this ongoing study will also analyze Russia experts’ core political beliefs and behaviors with regards to shaping respective foreign policies of the two countries.

Preliminary results of this research were presented at the 2019 ASEEES Convention.