Former U.S. ambassador to Russia reflects on Vladimir Putin

Russia has dominated our national headlines for months. Timely, then, that the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan is bringing a Russian expert to town.

On Tuesday, November 14, The Honorable John Beyrle, United States Ambassador to Russia (retired), will present on the topic “Russia 2018: Putin’s Last Act?” Beyrle will speak at 7:00 p.m. at the Western Michigan University Grand Rapids East Beltline campus.

Ambassador Beyrle’s talk is the conclusion of the Council’s fall lecture series, titled “Dixie’s Picks” in honor of retiring executive director Dixie Anderson.

“We look forward to John’s analysis, especially in the wake of the way Russia has dominated news coverage,” Anderson said. “As a long-time observer of Russia and with much time spent in the country, he has insights that are absolutely unique and his presentations are always well-received.”

Beyrle served as an American diplomat for more than three decades in foreign postings and domestic assignments focused on Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and Russia. He was twice appointed ambassador: to Bulgaria (2005-08) and to Russia (2008-12). During the latter assignment he led the implementation of policies resulting in improved U.S.-Russian relations, highlighted by the signing of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty, Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization and liberalized visa formalities.

His diplomatic service included two earlier tours at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, including as deputy chief of mission. He also served as counselor for political and economic affairs at the U.S. embassy in the Czech Republic and a member of the U.S. delegation to the CFE arms control negotiations in Vienna.

Ambassador Beyrle received the Presidential Meritorious Service Award during the Administration of George W. Bush and the Presidential Distinguished Service Award from President Barack Obama. Secretary of State Clinton presented him with the Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s highest honor.

A native of Muskegon, Mich., Beyrle received a B.A. with honors from Grand Valley State University (1975) and an M.S. as a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College (1996), where he later taught as a visiting professor of national security studies. He speaks Bulgarian, Czech, French, German and Russian.

To register for the event, go to the Council events page: