James F. Collins

Senior Associate, 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 May 16, 2012
    Overcoming the Stigma of Cooperative Missile Defense

    Europe, Russia, and the United States can take steps to build trust and find a way to work together cooperatively on missile defense.

  • Fall of the Soviet Union—The Inside Story
    Q&A August 18, 2011
    Fall of the Soviet Union—The Inside Story

    The fall of the Soviet Union and end of communism in Russia caught the world by surprise twenty years ago.

  • An Enduring Approach to U.S.-Russian Cooperation
    Policy Outlook July 27, 2011
    An Enduring Approach to U.S.-Russian Cooperation

    Making the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission a permanent structure will help ensure continued success in managing relations between the two countries.

  • A Post-Election Agenda for Belarus
    Article January 12, 2011
    A Post-Election Agenda for Belarus

    Following last month's presidential election and subsequent government crackdown on opposition activists, Belarus is at a strategic crossroads, but a swift response by Minsk could salvage the country's course toward reform and greater integration.

  • A Reset for the U.S.-Russia Values Gap
    Policy Outlook November 30, 2010
    A Reset for the U.S.-Russia Values Gap

    Despite the reset, a values gap still exists between Russia and the United States that could limit progress, undermine trust and confidence in the bilateral relationship, and raise difficult issues that cannot be ignored.

  • Reflections on the Reset: A Statement by the Forme
    Article November 3, 2010 Русский
    Reflections on the Reset: A Statement by the Former Ambassadors to Moscow and Washington

    The U.S.-Russia reset is off to a solid beginning, but it is incomplete in many respects; while the countries have made good progress in their relationship, much remains to be done.

  • Why Russia Matters
    Op-Ed Foreign Policy August 18, 2010
    Why Russia Matters

    A year and a half into the “reset,” the partnership with Russia remains a challenging but indispensable one for the United States. Engaging Russia is crucial to U.S. success on issues ranging from nuclear arms control to climate change.

  • Kyrgyzstan: A Test for Mutual Security
    Op-Ed The International Herald Tribune June 15, 2010 中文 Русский
    Kyrgyzstan: A Test for Mutual Security

    The crisis in Kyrgyzstan presents an opportunity for the three multilateral groups working in the area to do real, immediate good while building trust and demonstrating that cooperation is possible in the increasingly interconnected and fragile Eurasian security space.

  • Will Russia Nuclear Treaty Improve U.S. Security?
    Op-Ed PBS NewsHour April 8, 2010
    Will Russia Nuclear Treaty Improve U.S. Security?

    The most significant aspect of the new START treaty is its preservation of a legally binding framework for the U.S.-Russian strategic relationship.

  • For Russians, It's Relative
    Op-Ed The New York Times March 29, 2010
    For Russians, It's Relative

    In spite of terrorist acts like the Moscow metro bombings, the Russian people continue to show strong support for their leaders, who are credited with having prevented a total economic collapse.

  • 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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