brooke james

Veteran foreign correspondent James Brooke, who spent the past eight years reporting from Moscow, will speak on the Ukraine crisis, the outlook for Russia under Vladimir Putin, and rising tensions with the United States at the first Cape Ann Forum of the 2014/2015 season. The event will take place on Sunday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at Gloucester City Hall and is free and open to the public.

“The Kremlin’s strategy is to surround itself with weak and divided states,” wrote Brooke in a recent blogpost. “Ever wonder why there is no solution in sight for Moldova’s breakaway region of TransDniester Republic? For Georgia’s secessionist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia? For the Azeri-Armenian dispute over Nagorno Karabagh?

“Very simple: the EU and NATO will not accept as members countries with territorial disputes. So now, Ukraine joins the list of former Soviet republics kept weakened and on the defensive by Kremlin policy.

“Crimea exemplifies a zero sum view of the world that Russian foreign policy makers have adopted without much change from their Soviet predecessors. If you are up, I am down. If I am up, you are down.”

James Brooke, a native of the Berkshires, first visited Moscow as a correspondent for the New York Times in 1989. Over the following quarter century, he reported from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg, from the Arctic to the Caucasus.

In July, he wound up eight years in Moscow, first as Bloomberg Bureau Chief, then as Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and the former Soviet Union. Most recently, he reported from Kiev’s Maidan on the rise of Ukraine’s democracy movement and from Moscow on the Kremlin’s military response.

With the New York Times, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa, Latin America, Canada, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea. He studied Russian in college during the Brezhnev years, first visited Moscow as a reporter during the final months of Gorbachev, and then came back for reporting forays during the Yeltsin and early Putin years. In 2006, he moved to Moscow to report for Bloomberg. He joined VOA in Moscow in 2010.

He recently moved to Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, to take over as editor-in-chief of The Cambodia Daily, a privately-owned newspaper printed in English and Khmer, with an editorial staff of 50. Educated at Yale, he speaks Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, and basic Japanese.

This is the Cape Ann Forum‘s 85th public lecture and discussion since the community-based nonprofit was launched after 9/11 to increase public understanding of international issues. The Forum is an all-volunteer organization funded entirely by donations from local supporters.

Other forums planned for the season will focus on global climate change, the continuing crisis in Haiti and the Israeli/Palestinian issue.

For more information, go to the Forum’s website at

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