James F. Collins

Nonresident Senior Fellow
Russia and Eurasia Program;
Diplomat in Residence
Ambassador Collins was the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation from 1997 to 2001 and is an expert on the former Soviet Union, its successor states, and the Middle East.


MA, Indiana University
AB, Harvard University


English; Russian


Ambassador James F. Collins is an expert on the former Soviet Union, its successor states, and the Middle East.

Ambassador Collins was the U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation from 1997 to 2001. Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment, he served as senior adviser at the public law and policy practice group Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP.

Before his appointment as ambassador to Russia, he served as ambassador at large and special adviser to the secretary of state for the newly independent states in the mid-1990s and as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Moscow from 1990 to 1993. In addition to three diplomatic postings in Moscow, he also held positions at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan, and the consulate general in Izmir, Turkey.

He is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Award for Distinguished Service; the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award; the Secretary of State’s Award for Career Achievement; the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service; and the NASA Medal for Distinguished Service.

Ambassador Collins has been active on the boards of nonprofit organizations concerned with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. relations with Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. He has served as a member of the board of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, the American Academy of Diplomacy, the Open World Leadership Center, and American Councils for International Education. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Civilian Research and Development Foundation and the Library of Foreign Literature in Moscow.

Before joining the State Department, Ambassador Collins taught Russian and European history, American government, and economics at the U.S. Naval Academy.

  • Article November 20, 2015 Русский
    Daunting Challenges and Glimmers of Hope in Ukraine

    The turmoil in eastern Ukraine has shaken the post–Cold War order. But there is reason to hope a more effective approach to building regional security might be possible.

  • Op-Ed Project Syndicate August 26, 2015
    Diplomacy at the Top of the World

    Despite ongoing geopolitical tensions between the West and Russia, cooperation is still possible—and necessary—on long-term issues critical to the Arctic region.

  • Op-Ed National Interest April 21, 2015
    How America Can Step Up Its Leadership Role in the Arctic

    The United States must make clear that it is prepared to continue Arctic cooperation and welcomes constructive Russian activity in the region.

  • Recommendations from the February 2015 Meeting at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace April 20, 2015
    Arctic Council Initiatives to Sustain Arctic Cooperation

    The Arctic must and can, with adequate political will, remain an area for peaceful cooperation, scientific research, and sustainable development.

  • Op-Ed Fletcher Forum of World Affairs March 13, 2015
    The Nemtsov Assassination Decoded?

    The death of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov may hold the key to understanding deeper schisms within Russia, both between the government and advocates for reform, and between Putin and extreme nationalist entities.

  • Op-Ed New York Times September 8, 2014
    Give Diplomacy With Russia a Chance

    The crisis over Ukraine has all but frozen official communication between the United States and Russia. It is time to reengage Russia diplomatically.

  • Op-Ed CNN February 24, 2014
    Ukraine Isn’t a West vs East Super Bowl

    For years, Ukraine’s neighbors treated the country as part of a geopolitical rivalry. Moving forward hopefully Ukraine’s citizens will focus on their needs while its neighbors encourage their success.

  • Conference Report and Recommendations to the Arctic Council and Interested Parties May 14, 2013
    A Euro-Atlantic Action Plan for Cooperation and Enhanced Arctic Security

    Climate change is making it increasingly likely that the Arctic will be developed for commercial purposes. This underscores the need for the Arctic countries to cooperate to prevent conflict and to defend the interests of the indigenous populations living in the region.

  • Op-Ed International Herald Tribune May 13, 2013
    Hands Across the Melting Ice

    The Arctic states of North America, Europe, and Russia, working with indigenous peoples and a number of non-Arctic states, have taken steps to ensure that the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation, peace, and sustainable development.

  • April 12, 2013
    Priorities for Russia-U.S. Relations: A Statement by Former Ambassadors to Washington and Moscow

    Deepening economic engagement and making progress on missile defense should be central policy priorities for Russia and the United States in their bilateral relations.

  • Putin's Revenge
    PBS’ Frontline October 25, 2017
    The Putin Files: The Economy

    While there has been no real challenge from other political organized structures, Russian President Vladimir Putin was reelected in 2012 out of the desire for economic growth.

  • MSNBC September 26, 2011
    Putin Announces that He Will Seek New Term as President

    Given that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has probably been involved in the U.S.-Russian reset in bilateral relations, a high degree of continuity in Russian policy toward the United States is likely when he becomes president.

  • Kojo Nnamdi Show September 26, 2011
    Putin’s Return as Russia’s President

    Putin’s expected return to the Kremlin comes as little surprise, but it raises questions about President Medvedev’s future, the role of the Russian prime minister, and the nature of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

  • Russia Today: The Alyona Show April 8, 2010
    STARTing Over

    The United States and Russia have officially signed the new START Treaty, setting up the necessary framework to reduce the world’s nuclear weapon stockpile by almost a third.

  • James Collins
    NPR's To the Point October 15, 2009
    The US and Russia: Iran and Nuclear Weapons

    At the top of Secretary Clinton's agenda during her visit to Russia is a discussion of Iran's nuclear ambitions. Conflicting messages from President Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov leave the outcome of that discussion in doubt.

  • Ambassador Collins
    Bloggingheads.tv October 12, 2009
    Worldwise: Russian Relations

    Russia and the United States are not likely to come to agreement on the best way to approach Iran’s nuclear ambitions any time soon. This issue is likely to be at the top of Secretary Clinton’s agenda during her time in Moscow.

  • James Collins
    CNN December 11, 2008
    Memo to the President: Russia

    One of President-elect Obama’s main foreign policy challenges will be figuring out the proper approach to dealing with Russia. Although ties with Russia have been damaged because of the August Russia-Georgia crisis, Russia, a re-emerged power, is a key player in issues such as Iranian nuclear proliferation and the Middle East peace process.

  • NPR's All Things Considered August 25, 2008
    U.S.-Russia Relations Complicate Georgia Talks

    As U.S.-Russia relations continue to sour over the Russia-Georgia conflict, it is unclear how the two nations will be able to rebuild their relationship. Although the conflict led to the current deterioration in relations, problems between the two countries were present before. Despite strong rhetoric from Washington, there is a need for an improved dialogue between the United States and Russia.

  • James Collins
    CNN International August 14, 2008
    Conflict Harming Relations

    The Russia-Georgia crisis has caused a substantial erosion in Russia-U.S. relations. In order to move forward in such a challenging diplomatic environment, the United States should fully support the French initiative to achieve a cease fire.

  • James Collins
    WNYC's The Take Away August 12, 2008
    New Developments in the Conflict Between Russia and Georgia

    French President Nicholas Sarkozy will meet with Dmitry Medvedev in an effort to move the Russian leadership toward a cease-fire agreement already signed by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. Even if a ceasefire is reached, continuing turmoil in South Ossetia, which refuses to return to Georgian control, and Abkhazia, where the political situation remains unclear, will keep tensions high.

Source: http://carnegieendowment.org/experts/index.cfm?fa=expert_view&expert_id=341

Areas of Expertise

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
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