Fiona Hill

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Person.png Fiona Hill   LinkedIn Powerbase TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(spook, academic)
Fiona hill portrait.jpg
BornOctober 1965
Durham, England
Alma materSt. Andrews University, Harvard University
SpouseKenneth Keen
Member ofBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Council on Foreign Relations/Members, Eurasia Foundation/Board and Trustees, Institute for War and Peace Reporting/Board, Trilateral Commission
Interests • Chechnya
• Russia
• Cold War 2.0

Dr Fiona Hill is a British-born American foreign affairs specialist who has spent her whole career working to expand US influence in Eurasia. She is a former official at the U.S. National Security Council specializing in Russian and European affairs. She has a strong anti-Russian stance, focused on the person of Vladimir Putin, with analyses such as “Putin’s Personality Disorder" and “What If Putin Disappeared for Real?"

Early life and education

Hill was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham in northern England, the daughter of a coal miner. Her family struggled financially, and at age 13, Fiona began working at odd jobs, including washing cars and working as a waitress at a local hotel.

She and her sister attended Bishop Barrington School, a local comprehensive school. In 2017, she recalled applying for the University of Oxford: "I applied to Oxford in the '80s and was invited to an interview. It was like a scene from Billy Elliot: people were making fun of me for my accent and the way I was dressed. It was the most embarrassing, awful experience I had ever had in my life." She then studied history and Russian at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. In 1987, she was an exchange student in the Soviet Union, where, while interning for NBC News, she witnessed the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. An (unnamed) American professor there encouraged Hill to apply for a graduate program in the United States.

At Harvard University, she earned a master's degree in Russian and modern history in 1991, and a PhD in history in 1998 under Richard Pipes, Akira Iriye, and Roman Szporluk. While at Harvard, she was a Frank Knox Fellow, and met her future husband, Kenneth Keen, at Cabot House.

Hill became a US citizen in 2002.


Hill worked in the research department at the John F. Kennedy School of Government from 1991 to 1999. From 1991-1994, she was the director of Harvard’s project on Ethnic Conflict in the former Soviet Union. From 1994-1999, Hill was associate director of Harvard University's Strengthening Democratic Institutions project.

She was Director of Strategic Planning at the Eurasia Foundation from 1999-2000, and later on the board of trustees. She was a trustee at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London from 2000-2006. She was on the Advisory Board of the Central Eurasia Project of the Open Society Institute in New York from 2000-2006.

She was a member on the Program on New Approaches to Russian Security (PONARS) in Washington DC from 1997-2006.

Hill has also been a consultant to The Hague Initiative (an international roundtable on the resolution of conflicts in the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union, with a special focus on the 1994-1996 war in Chechnya), and a consultant to the United Nations Special Envoy and Mission to Georgia and Abkhazia. She testified before Congress on the impact of the second war in Chechnya in November 1999.

National Intelligence Council

One can observe from this that the Institute for War and Peace Reporting,Eurasia Foundation and Open Society Institute are seen as highly relevant stepping stones to a top level intelligence career:

Hill became an intelligence analyst under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama at the National Intelligence Council where she, from 2006 to 2009, was the Intelligence Community’s senior expert on Russia and the former Soviet republics, including Ukraine.

From 2009 to 2017, she worked at the Brookings Institutionin Washington DC, as Senior Fellow & Director, in the Center on the United States & Europe.

She was appointed, in the first quarter of 2017, by President Donald Trump as Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs on his National Security Council staff. She resigned her position on July 19, 2019, and returned to the Brookings Institution in 2020.

On October 14, 2019, responding to a subpoena, Hill testified in a closed-door deposition for ten hours before a committee of the United States Congress as part of the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. In response to a question from that committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, Hill stated: "The Russians’ interests are frankly to delegitimize our entire presidency.… The goal of the Russians [in 2016] was really to put whoever became the president — by trying to tip their hands on one side of the scale — under a cloud."

Hill is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.



  • “The Next Mr. Putin? The Question of Succession,” Daedalus, Special Edition: “Russia Beyond Putin,” (Spring 2017)
  • “What makes Putin tick and what the West should do,” Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, Brookings Report (online), January 13, 2017
  • “Dealing with a simmering Ukraine-Russia conflict,” Fiona Hill and Steven Pifer, Brookings “Election 2016 and America’s Future” series (online), October 6, 2016
  • “3 reasons Russia’s Vladimir Putin might want to interfere in the US presidential elections,” Vox (online), July 27, 2016
  • “Putin: The one-man show the West doesn’t understand,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 13, 2016
  • “Understanding and deterring Russia: U.S. policies and strategies,” Testimony to the House Armed Services Committee, February 10, 2016
  • Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (New & Expanded Paperback Second Edition) Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press 2015)
  • “How Vladimir Putin’s Worldview Shapes Russian Foreign Policy,” in Margot Light & David Cadier (eds.), Russia’s *Foreign Policy: Ideas, Domestic Politics and External Relations (London, Palgrave Macmillan, Palgrave Studies in International Relations, 2015)
  • “Putin’s Risky Game of Chicken,” Fiona Hill & Steven Pifer,” The New York Times, June 15, 2015
  • “Only high-level talks can penetrate the fog of war,” Financial Times, May 20, 2015
  • “Putin Fights His Father’s War,” Die Zeit (in German), May 6, 2015
  • “What If Putin Disappeared for Real? The Russian president’s absence points to Russia’s looming succession crisis,” Politico, March 16, 2015
  • “The Great Debate. Hybrid war: The real reason fighting stopped in Ukraine – for now,” Reuters, February 26, 2015
  • “This is What Putin Really Wants,” The National Interest (online), February 24, 2015
  • “The American Education of Vladimir Putin,” Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy, The Atlantic, February 16, 2015
  • “Putin’s Russia Goes Rogue,” Fiona Hill and Steven Pifer, Brookings Big Bets & Black Swans Memorandum, January 23, 2014
  • “Putin Scores on Syria: How He Got the Upper Hand––And How He Will Use It,” Foreign Affairs (online), September 6, 2013
  • “Putin’s Pivot: Why Russia is Looking East,” Fiona Hill and Bobo Lo, Foreign Affairs (online), July 31, 2013
  • “The Survivalist in the Kremlin,” Project Syndicate, July 4, 2013
  • “The Real Reason Putin Supports Assad,” Foreign Affairs (online), March 25, 2013
  • “Putin’s Personality Disorder,” Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, Foreign Policy, February 15, 2013
  • “How the 1980s Explain Vladimir Putin,” (Book excerpt) Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, The Atlantic, February 14, 2013
  • “The End of Brand Putin?” (Book excerpt) Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, The Globalist, February 14, 2013
  • Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy (Washington DC: Brookings Focus Book, 2013)
  • “Putin and the Uses of History,” Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy, The National Interest, January 4, 2012
  • “How Russia and China See the Egyptian Revolution,” Foreign Policy (online), February 15, 2011
  • “Moscow Discovers Soft Power,” Current History (October 2006)
  • “Turkey and Russia: Axis of the Excluded?” Fiona Hill and Omer Taspinar, Survival (Spring 2006)
  • “Managing the Russian Dilemma,” in Friends Again? EU-US Relations After the Crisis (Paris, France: EU Institute for Security Studies Study, Transatlantic Book 2006)
  • “Beyond Codependency: European Reliance on Russian Energy,” Brookings Center for U.S. and Europe: U.S.-Europe Analysis Series (July 2005)
  • “A Spreading Danger: Time for a New Policy Toward Chechnya,” Fiona Hill, Anatol Lieven, Thomas de Waal, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Policy Brief, #35 (March 2005)
  • “Governing Russia: Putin’s Federal Dilemmas,” New Europe Review (January 2005)
  • “Siberia: Russia’s Economic Heartland and Daunting Dilemma,” Current History (October 2004)

Energy Empire: Oil, Gas and Russia’s Revival, (London: The Foreign Policy Centre, September 2004)

  • The Siberian Curse. How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold, Fiona Hill and

Clifford Gaddy, (Washington, DC: Brookings Press, 2003)


Events Participated in

Brussels Forum/2010Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA and NATO-close German Marshall Fund.
Brussels Forum/201125 March 201127 March 2011Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA and NATO-close German Marshall Fund.
Brussels Forum/2013Belgium
Yearly discreet get-together of huge amount of transatlantic politicians, media and military and corporations, under the auspices of the CIA-close German Marshall Fund.