Russia’s unconventional war on Ukraine is being fought with weapons, with economics—and with an unprecedented disinformation campaign now being waged across online forums, airwaves and media sites across Europe. Through the manipulation of facts and the integration of outright lies into mainstream narratives, the Russian government seeks to influence public opinion and shape Western policy. In conversation with Anne Applebaum, Director of the Legatum Institute’sTransitions Forum, panellists will examine why these tactics are working, how they could undermine European democracy and what can be done about it.


  • Geoffrey Pyatt, US Ambassador to Ukraine
  • Oleksander Scherba, Ambassador at Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ukraine
  • Michael Weiss, Editor-in-Chief, The Interpreter
  • Peter Pomerantsev, Journalist and Documentary Producer


  • Anne Applebaum, Director of the Transitions Forum, Legatum Institute


  • John Herbst, Director of the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Centre, Atlantic Council


  • Thursday, 30 October 2014
  • Venue: The Chesterfield Mayfair, 35 Charles St, London W1J 5EB


  • This discussion will be livestreamed at 18:00 GMT on Thursday, 30 October 2014. The livestream can be viewed here.
  • Follow the conversation on Twitter using #RussiaVsReality and @LegatumInst, @ACEurasia, @USAinUK

Please note, this event is now full. To be added to a waiting list, please contact Alternatively, tune in live online (details above).

This event is organised by the Legatum Institute, in cooperation with the Atlantic Council and the US Department of State.

About the Speakers

Geoffrey Pyatt became the United States ambassador to Ukraine in August 2013. He spent 24 years in the US State Department and held numerous positions including Principal Deputy, Assistant Secretary of the South and Central Asia Affairs Bureau (2010-2013) and Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Mission to International Organizations in Vienna (2007-2010). Prior to this, he served at the US Embassy in New Delhi and at the American Consulates in Hong Kong and Lahore.

Oleksander Scherba is Ambassador-at-Large for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously, he was involved in Ukrainian politics and was the foreign policy advisor to Arseniy Yatseniuk during his presidential campaign in 2009-2010. He has held various positions in the diplomatic service, including first secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, counsellor to the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, and third secretary to the Ukrainian Embassy in Germany.

Michael Weiss is the editor-in-chief of The Interpreter, and columnist for Foreign Policy, the Daily Beast, and NOW Lebanon. He has broken several news stories for Foreign Policy, including how Iran has given virtually free oil to the Assad regime in Syria; how Angola’s energy sector works closely with a Swiss commodities trader and how Russia fired Grad missiles into eastern Ukraine. He founded The Interpreter as a news and translation service in May 2013.

Peter Pomerantsev is a British author and documentary producer. His writing on Russia features regularly in the London Review of Books, Newsweek/Daily Beast, Financial Times and The New Yorker. He has also worked as a consultant on EU and World Bank development projects in the former USSR. His book about working at the heart of Putin’s post-modern dictatorship, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, will be published in November 2014. He is also author of the Legatum Institute report Revolutionary Tactics: Insights from Police and Justice Reform in Georgia.

John Herbst is the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center. He served for thirty-one years as a Foreign Service officer in the US Department of State and was the US Ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006 and Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2000 to 2003. He previously served as US Consul General in Jerusalem; Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for the Newly Independent States and the Director of the Office of Independent States and Commonwealth Affairs.

Anne Applebaum leads the Legatum Institute’s Transitions Forum. She is also a columnist for theWashington Post and Slate, and the author of several books, including Gulag: A History, which won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Her most recent book, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1946, won the 2013 Cundill Prize for Historical Literature and was nominated for a national book award in the US.

The Transitions Forum is a series of projects dedicated to the challenges and possibilities of radical political and economic change.