After completing a PhD in Political Science and History from the Moscow Institute of International Relations (1972), Alexander started his academic career as a lecturer at the Moscow State Institute for International Affairs, and later became senior research fellow at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. In 1988 he became Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the Diplomatic Academy and Vice-Rector of the Academy.
During the time of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika, already being a recognised expert in European security, Alexander became the Head of the European security desk at the International Department of the Central Committee for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (top Soviet foreign policy co-ordination body), later becoming Head of the Consultants Group, adviser/speechwriter unit working directly for the Soviet leadership.
In 1991, Alexander was appointed Deputy Spokesman and Adviser to the President of the USSR. He remained with President Gorbachev (after his resignation) as his adviser and spokesman and worked at the Gorbachev Foundation as the International and Media Director.
Alexander was a visiting professor at the Northeastern University, Boston, USA (1996-1998), Research Associate at the Institute of European Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow (1992-1997), and Associate Editor of Security Dialogue Journal, Oslo, Norway (1994-2000). He is also a member of the Club of Rome, a councillor at the World Future Council, serves as adviser to the Club of Madrid, and was elected in 2014 to the Board of Trustees of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.