Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, April 1989.
JOE SHLABOTNIK / FLICKR

In October 2013, the U.S. Department of State eliminated its funding program for advanced language and cultural training on Russia and the former Soviet Union. Created in 1983 as a special appropriation by Congress, the so-called Title VIII Program had supported generations of specialists working in academia, think tanks, and the U.S. government itself. But as a State Department official told the Russian news service RIA Novosti at the time, “In this fiscal climate, it just didn’t make it.” The program’s shuttering came just a month before the start of a now well-known chain of events: Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the descent of U.S.-Russian relations to their lowest level since the Cold War. The timing was, to say the least, unfortunate.

The end of the United States’ premier federal program for Russian studies saved taxpayers only $3.3 million—the cost of

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  • CHARLES KING is Professor of International Affairs and Chair of the Department of Government at Georgetown University. His most recent book is Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul. Follow him on Twitter @charleskingdc.
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