Hillary Clinton and Putin

Negotiating with Vladimir Putin: Video Advice from Five Former US Secretaries of State

March 25, 2022
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

This video was originally posted by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

To forge a diplomatic end to the war in Ukraine, much analysis has rightly focused on efforts to build sufficient leverage (e.g. via sanctions, military aid to Ukraine, etc.) and to design possible agreements (e.g. ceasefires, troop withdrawals, the relationship of Ukraine to NATO and the EU, the status of the Donbas and Crimea, etc.).

Yet transforming leverage and deal concepts into an actual war-ending agreement requires tactical and interpersonal skill, almost certainly involving dealing with Vladimir Putin. Based on their lengthy personal negotiations with this challenging Russian leader, this video compilation delivers highly relevant insights from Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Rex Tillerson. 

James K. Sebenius and Robert M. Mnookin frame, comment on, and summarize the advice presented in these unique video segments excerpted from their in-depth interviews with these men and women as part of Harvard's “American Secretaries of State Project” that they have co-directed since 2014 with Nicholas Burns (now U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, who did not participate in creating this video). We thank Alex Green whose extraordinary production efforts made this video possible. 

Video timeline: Intro and framing (start: 00:00); Interviews with Secretaries (start 10:26); Summary and takeaways (start 46:20).

Photo by U.S. State Department shared in the public domain.