Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Sputnik V and Russia’s New Vaccine Politics: Domestic and Foreign Policy Dimensions

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live.

Join us for a meeting of the New York-Russia Public Policy Series co-hosted by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University and the New York University Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia.

Vladimir Putin’s announcement in August 2020 that Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine—Sputnik V—generated much fanfare domestically but was initially met with skepticism among expert global scientific communities. Now, with more published results from trials, we see wider acceptance of the claims of the vaccine’s efficacy and a surging global demand for the vaccine from around the world. Please join this distinguished panel of researchers and commentators as we explore how the vaccine was developed in Russia, the issues surrounding its scientific review, and how the Kremlin is now incorporating “vaccine diplomacy” into its broader foreign policy strategy.

This event is supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


Enrico Bucci, Adjunct Professor of Biology; Director of the System Biology program of the Sbarro Health Research Organization, Temple University

Judyth Twigg, Professor of Political Science at Virginia Commonwealth University

Joshua Yaffa, correspondent for The New Yorker based in Moscow

Alexandra Yatsyk, University of Tartu

Moderated by:

Alexander Cooley, Director of the Harriman Institute Columbia University

Joshua Tucker, Director of the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia, New York University


Enrico Bucci is Adjunct Professor of Biology and director of the System Biology program of the Sbarro Health Research Organization at Temple University. He has led several research projects, many of which included both academic and industrial partners, in Italy and abroad. As a recognized international expert in the field of data manipulation and research integrity, Bucci was involved in several investigations of alleged research misconduct in Italy and abroad, both for academic and public bodies (including the Italian Police, the Hawaii University, the University of Edinburgh, the Italian CNR and others), and he is an advisor for several research institutions, both in Italy and abroad.

Judy Twigg is a professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she teaches courses on global health, international political economy, and Russian politics. She is also a senior associate with the Global Health Policy Center and Russia & Eurasia Program of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; consultant for the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank and the Office of Evaluation and Oversight of the Inter-American Development Bank; adjunct professor at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University; and member of the board of trustees of the Eurasia Foundation. She has been a consultant for the Kennan Institute, John Snow, Inc., UNICEF, the Social Science Research Council, and various U.S. government agencies. Twigg’s work focuses on issues of health, demographic change, and health systems reform in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, and the Caucasus.

Joshua Yaffa is a correspondent for The New Yorker, based in Moscow, Russia. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia, published in January 2020. He has also reported from Russia for The Economist, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Foreign Affairs. For his work in Russia, he has been named a fellow at New America, a recipient of the American Academy’s Berlin Prize, and a finalist for the Livingston Award.

Alexandra Yatsyk is a fellow at Free Russia Foundation and a former researcher at the University of Tartu, Estonia. Her areas of expertise cover post-Soviet nation building, Russian influence in Europe, sports and cultural mega-events, biopolitics and art. She is a co-author of the Critical biopolitics of the Post-Soviet: from Population to Nation (Lexington, 2019) and a co-editor of the Boris Nemtsov and Russian Politics: Power and Resistance (Ibidem Verlag & Columbia University, 2018) (with Andrey Makarychev).


Event Video