As Russian President Vladimir Putin massed his military on Ukraine’s border in late 2021, many analysts doubted Putin would actually invade.
But not Dmitri Alperovitch.
“He was seeing Ukraine slip away from his orbit. And when he saw that he could no longer control it, it was pretty clear to me that he was going to try to move in and attempt a regime change,” said Alperovitch.
Americans and others who closely studied the Communist leadership of the Soviet Union used to be called “Kremlinologists.” Now there’s a new generation of analysts who could be called “Putinologists,” those seeking to understand Russia today by deconstructing its leader and the war he’s waging in Ukraine.
Alperovitch was born in Moscow and came to the U.S. at age 13 in 1994. He’s never returned to Russia, though that country — and Putin — have shaped his life.
He was a founder of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which often investigated Russian computer hacks, like the 2016 breach of the Democratic National Committee.
Here’s how he describes the Russian leader: “I’ve always viewed him as a gambler. Most of the time he’s gotten lucky. (Ukraine) is the one gamble that’s probably his biggest, which has not worked out well so far.”
Alperovitch now heads Silverado Policy Accelerator, a think tank with a strong focus on Russia and Putin.
“I think ‘Putinologist’ is a good tag line,” said Alperovitch. “He sees himself as a new czar, that he has more power today as a Russian leader than really anyone