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Fiona Hill on Trump, Putin and the Path to Populism

The foreign affairs expert explored what drove Putin to invade Ukraine, what might persuade him to back down and the likelihood of his using nuclear weapons

Fiona Hill is the foreign affairs expert who started life as a former coal miner’s daughter in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and became an adviser to Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She came to public attention in 2019 when she testified against President Trump during his first impeachment and has been much in demand in recent weeks as an expert voice on the events unfolding in Ukraine. 

She took part in an Intelligence Squared event earlier this year before Russia invaded Ukraine and in July she returned to share her insights into what drove Putin to launch the war, what might persuade him to back down and the likelihood of his using nuclear weapons. In conversation with author and Times journalist Edward Lucas, she also drew on her bestselling memoir There Is Nothing For You Here and talk about the link between the populist impulse and the desperation of people in forgotten heartlands – a desperation she has seen in her hometown, in Russia and the US. 

Praise for Fiona Hill’s There Is Nothing For You Here:

Full of startling and unsettling insights into how Trump dealt with foreign leaders and his ‘autocrat envy.’ Hill’s book is also a compelling memoir about her journey from a working-class background in northern England to the corridors of power in Washington. Her background gives her particular insight into the social and economic forces driving the rise of populism in the US, UK and Russia.’ — Gideon Rachman, Best books of 2021, Financial Times 

This book has a miraculous quality. Fiona Hill has transformed her own predicaments in the Trump administration into a prescription for a better America. Known as an outstanding expert on Russia and an exemplary public servant, she reveals herself here as a wise observer and a beautiful writer. As a memoir this is hard to put down; if you are seeking a better American future you should pick it up.’ — Timothy Snyder, author of On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century 



Fiona Hill

Former senior adviser to Donald Trump and author of There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century

Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at the Center on the US and Europe at the Brookings Institution. From 2017 to 2019, she served as deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council. She is the author of several books, including Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin. Her new book is There Is Nothing for You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century.

Edward Lucas

Columnist at The Times and National Security Expert

Columnist for The Times and consultant specialising in European and transatlantic security. Formerly a senior editor at The Economist, he is now a senior vice-president at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). He has written several books including The New Cold War, a prescient account of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, Deception, an investigative account of East-West espionage, and Cyberphobia, about the phenomenon of cybercrime. He is an advocate for Magnitsky Law sanctions against Chinese officials.