Kimberly Marten Jan. 2022

Kimberly Marten



Political Science


Milstein 1106
Office hours online, most Mondays, 2-4pm



Prof. Kimberly Marten specializes in international relations, international security, Russia, and environmental politics. She is a faculty member of Columbia’s Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies, and Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. One strand of her current research focuses on the politics of the changing Arctic, which she spoke about at the Climate Change and (In)security Project of the UK Army and Oxford University (starting at about minute 34.00 here). The Harriman Institute and Eurasianet published a podcast interviewing her about her research on Russian Arctic extractive enterprises and climate change.

Marten has expertise on a broad range of Russian security and foreign policy issues, and she is honored to have given congressional testimony three times: on Russia's Wagner Group "private" military company (July 2020, written testimony here; and Sept. 2022, written testimony here), and on Russian military and economic interests and influence in Latin America and the Caribbean (July 2022, written testimony here). She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and has served on two bipartisan independent CFR task forces: on U.S. policy in the Arctic, and on cybersecurity and U.S. foreign policy

In early 2022 she spoke about the developing Ukraine crisis with Preet Bharara on his Stay Tuned podcast, on WNYC radio's "The Takeaway," and on an expert panel cosponsored by the Saltzman and Harriman Institutes. She spoke about Russia's invasion with Amna Nawaz on NPR's 1A, with Hari Sreenivasan on PBS Newshour Weekend, and on Canada's CBC television. She wrote about the invasion's dangers for NATO in the New York Daily News, and participated in a Council on Foreign Relations roundtable event that revisited NATO enlargement in light of Russia's invasion. In May 2022 she wrote about Finland's likely bid to join NATO in She analyzed Putin's rationality and the danger of inadvertent escalation in a PONARS policy memo. She participated in longer panel discussions on the Russian invasion at Barnard with President Sian Beilock and Trustee Steven Solnick, at the Harriman Institute, and at a Columbia Inside briefing.

Marten has analyzed Russia's Wagner Group "private" military company and its uses by the Russian state in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, and Libya, in Post-Soviet Affairsand three PONARS-Eurasia memos (herehere and here), Lawfare, and War on the Rocks. She spoke about Wagner's use in Russia's 2022 Ukraine invasion for BBC World Service radio's The Inquiry (starting at about minute 17). She also explored Russia's overall aims in Africa in the Washington Quarterly

She unpacked and analyzed the history and status of Russia's relationship with NATO and NATO enlargement, in International Politicsthe European Journal of International Security, an H-Diplo International Security Studies Forum roundtable, and a report commissioned by the Council on Foreign Relations. In January 2022 she was interviewed about the Russia/US and Russia/NATO security dialog meetings by Voice of America and Al Jazeera English.

Marten has analyzed Russia’s intelligence agencies under Putin (Routledge Handbook and the Journal of Slavic Military Studies), and explained (International Politics) Putin's decision to meddle in the 2016 U.S. elections, and to intervene militarily in Ukraine in 2014 (The Washington Quarterly)Other Russia-related work is in The New RepublicForeignAffairs.comH-Diplo, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post's Monkey Cage Blog (hereherehereherehere, and here). Marten discussed Putin's foreign and security policy on the The Daily Show (extended interview here) with Jon Stewart, CBS This Morning Saturday (here and here), the Charlie Rose Show, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow show and The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, PBS NewsHour Weekend with Hari Sreenivasan (herehereherehere, and here), NPR's All Things Considered with Ari Shapiro and Audie CornishFresh Air with Terry Gross, The 1A (herehere, and here) with Joshua Johnson, Here and Now with Robin Young, KQED's Forum, and WNYC's The Takeaway, among others.

Before this, Marten analyzed the politics of warlords, asking how their patronage networks impact sovereignty and state failure. In Warlords: Strong-Arm Brokers in Weak States (Cornell University Press, 2012), Marten traced the development of warlordism and its consequences in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Sunni Arab areas of Iraq, and post-Soviet Georgia and the Republic of Chechnya in Russia. She discussed the book on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show and Wisconsin Public Radio.  The book was reviewed in an H-Diplo/International Security Studies Forum roundtable. In International Security, she compared warlordism in Afghanistan and Somalia to medieval Europe and Republican-era China. She researched militias and security sector reform in weak states, including work on the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, published in International Peacekeeping and in the International Herald Tribune/New York Times. Her chapter on the Afghan Local Police appears in an edited volume on The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime, following an earlier opinion piece in the IHT/NYT. With Olga Oliker she wrote about the threat of warlordism in Ukraine's patriotic militias in War on the Rocks.

Her prior books include Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation (Princeton, 1993), which received the Marshall Shulman Prize; Weapons, Culture, and Self-Interest: Soviet Defense Managers in the New Russia (Columbia, 1997); and Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past (Columbia, 2004).

Marten earned her A.B. in 1985 at Harvard magna cum laude and Ph.D. in 1991 at Stanford. She was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation; a visiting scholar at Harvard's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies; a visiting scholar at Tokyo's Institute for International Policy Studies (via a Hitachi/Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship); and a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. She has served as chair of the Barnard Political Science Department twice (2006-2009 and 2018-2021), and held the 5-year term Ann Whitney Olin Professorship from 2013-18. Her research has been supported by the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Social Science Research Council/MacArthur Foundation, and the Government of Canada. She is a founding member of PONARS-Eurasia, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

  • A.B., Harvard University
  • Ph.D., Stanford University

  • POLS BC3605 The Global Politics of Climate Change: Syllabus Fall 2022
  • POLS BC3060 Colloquium on the Politics of the Arctic: Syllabus Spring 2022
  • POLS UN1601 International Politics: Syllabus Fall 2021
  • POLS GU4875 Russia and the West: Intensive Syllabus Spring 2021; Regular Syllabus Spring 2020
  • POLS BC3118 Colloquium on International Security: Syllabus Spring 2023
  • POLS BC3055  Colloquium on Political Violence and Terrorism: Syllabus Spring 2018
  • POLS BC3812  Colloquium on State Failure, Warlords and Pirates: Syllabus Spring 2017

"Finland's New Frontier: Will Russia Seek to Disrupt Helsinki's NATO Bid?", May 4, 2022.

"President Putin’s Rationality and Escalation in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine," PONARS-Eurasia Policy Memo 756, Mar. 9, 2022.

"How This Invasion Threatens NATO: Seeing Putin's Gameplan," New York Daily News, Feb. 25, 2022,

Essay in "NATO Expansion in Retrospect," H-Diplo International Security Studies Forum Policy Roundtable 12-1, Oct. 19, 2020,   

"Where’s Wagner? The All-New Exploits of Russia’s 'Private' Military Company," PONARS-Eurasia Policy Memo 670, Sept. 2020,  

“The GRU, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Russia’s Wagner Group: Malign Russian Actors and Possible U.S. Responses,” testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, United States House of Representatives, Hearing on Exposing and Demanding Accountability for Kremlin Crimes Abroad, July 7, 2020,

"NATO Enlargement: Evaluating its Consequences in Russia," International Politics, published online first (April 16, 2020),

"Russia's Back in Africa: Is the Cold War Returning?" The Washington Quarterly 42, no. 4 (Dec. 2019): 155-70,

"Russ-Afrique? Russia, France, and the Central African Republic," PONARS-Eurasia Policy Memo 608, Aug. 2019,

"Russia’s Use of Semi-State Security Forces: The Case of the Wagner Group," Post-Soviet Affairs, published online March 2019,

"Into Africa: Prigozhin, Wagner, and the Russian Military," PONARS-Eurasia Policy Memo 561, Jan. 2019, 

“The Intelligence Agencies and Putin: Undermining Russia’s Security?” in The Routledge Handbook of Russian Security, ed. Roger Kanet (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2019), pp. 192-202.

With Olga Oliker, "Brothers in Arms? Why Trump Should Push Putin to Revive Arms Control,", July 13, 2018, 

"Semi-state Security Actors and Russian Aggression," Lawfare blog, July 8, 2018, 

"The Puzzle of Russian Behavior in Deir-al-zour," War on the Rocks blog, July 5, 2018,

"Reckless Ambition: Moscow's Policy toward the United States, 2016/17," International Politics 56 (2019): 743–761 (published online May 2, 2018).

“Explaining Russia’s Schizophrenic Policy toward the United States,” PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo 501, Jan. 2018.

"Reconsidering NATO Expansion: A Counterfactual Analysis of Russia and the West in the 1990s," European Journal of International Security 3, no. 2 (June 2018), doi:10.1017/eis.2017.16 . Published online first.

"Digital Détente: The Case for Cyber Peace with Russia," The New Republic, Jan./Feb. 2018 (published online Nov. 28, 2017),

With Olga Oliker, "Ukraine's Volunteer Militias May Have Saved the Country, but Now They Threaten It," War on the Rocks, Sept. 14, 2017,

"President Trump, Keep in Mind that Russia and the West Think about Negotiations Very, Very Differently," Washington Post Monkey Cage blog, July 25, 2017.

"The ‘KGB State’ and Russian Political and Foreign Policy Culture," Journal of Slavic Military Studies 30, no. 2 (April 2017): 131-51.

Reducing Tensions between NATO and Russia, Council Special Report 79 (Council on Foreign Relations Center for Preventive Action), March 2017.

Essay in SSF Policy Roundtable 1-7: Russia and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, March 27, 2017. 

"Trump and Putin, through a Glass Darkly," Asia Policy 23 (Jan. 2017): 36-42.

"The Security Costs and Benefits of Non-State Militias: The Example of Eastern Ukraine," PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo 391, September 2015.

“Debunking the Stationary Bandit Myth: Violence and Governance in Statebuilding History,” in Non-State Challenges in a Re-Ordered World: The Jackals of Westphalia? ed. Stefano Ruzza, Anja P. Jakobi and Charles C. Geisler (New York: Routledge, 2015).

“Putin’s Choices: Explaining Russian Foreign Policy and Intervention in Ukraine,” The Washington Quarterly 38, no. 2 (Summer 2015): 189-204.

“Informal Political Networks and Putin’s Foreign Policy: The Examples of Iran and Syria,” Problems of Post-Communism 62, no. 2 (April 2015): 71-87.

"Reformed or Deformed?  Patronage Politics, International Influence, and the Palestinian Security Forces," International Peacekeeping 21, no. 2 (June 2014): 181-97.

"A New Explanation for Russian Foreign Policy: The Power of Informal Patronage Networks," PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo 274, September 2013.

“Warlords and Governance,” in The Transnational Governance of Violence and Crime: Non-State Actors in Security, ed. Anja P. Jakobi and Klaus Dieter Wolf (Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 23-29.  Governance and Limited Statehood Series.

"The Bane of Palestinian Infighting," International Herald Tribune, June 27, 2013.

Warlords: Strong-Arm Brokers in Weak States.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.

"Uncertain Loyalty: The Challenges of Cooperating with Militias," Jane's Intelligence Review, December 2012: 41-5.

"Patronage vs. Professionalism in New Security Institutions," Prism (National Defense University Center for Complex Operations) 2, no. 4 (Sept. 2011): 83-98.

“Warlords,” in The Changing Character of War, ed. Hew Strachan and Sibylle Scheipers (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

“Failing States and Conflict,” in The International Studies Encyclopedia (a peer-reviewed compendium of scholarly concepts in international relations, a project of the International Studies Association), ed. Robert A. Denemark (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).

“From Kabul to Kandahar: The Canadian Forces and Change,” American Review of Canadian Studies 40, no. 2 (June 2010): 214-36.

“The Danger of Tribal Militias in Afghanistan: Learning from the British Empire,” Journal of International Affairs (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs) 63, no. 1 (Fall/Winter 2009): 157-74.

“Correspondence: Misunderstanding Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas?” substantive response letter, International Security 33, no. 3 (Winter 2008/9): 180-85.

"Statebuilding and Force: The Proper Role of Foreign Militaries," Journal of Intervention and State-Building1, no. 2 (June 2007): 231-47.  Reprinted in Statebuilding and Intervention: Policies, Practices and Paradigms, ed. David Chandler (New York: Routledge, 2009).

“Russian Efforts to Control Kazakhstan’s Oil: The Kumkol Case,” Post-Soviet Affairs 23, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 2007): 18-37.

“Is Stability the Answer?” in Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World, ed. Pamela Aall, Chester A. Crocker and Fen Osler Hampson (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 2007).

“Warlordism in Comparative Perspective,” International Security 31, no. 3 (Winter 2006/7): 41-73.

Enforcing the Peace: Learning from the Imperial Past.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Weapons, Culture, and Self-Interest: Soviet Defense Managers in the New Russia.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1997.

Engaging the Enemy: Organization Theory and Soviet Military Innovation, 1955-1991.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.