Russia

The Shah of Venezuela
April 01, 2009

The ideas that keep Hugo Chavez in power.

From Obama With Love
March 05, 2009

It’s not often that a journalist manages to provoke immediate responses from the presidents of both the United States and Russia, but Peter Baker pulled it off Tuesday. Writing in The New York Times, Baker revealed the existence of a “secret letter” in which Barack Obama suggested that if Russia helped prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the United States might abandon its planned missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Both presidents denied that the letter offered an explicit quid pro quo, but interestingly both noted that such a trade could be a good one.

Pravda on the Potomac
February 18, 2009

RAMZAN KADYROV, one would assume, is hardly the sort of man the Russian government would want to show off to a group of foreign dignitaries. The Moscow-appointed president of Chechnya has been accused of deploying his several-thousand-man-strong personal militia—since absorbed into the Chechen government—to torture and murder his opponents, and many suspect that he played a role in the 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist who exposed Russia’s brutal repression of separatists.

Red Herring
November 19, 2008

Why did Russia really invade Georgia? In late September, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appeared before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and offered a rather stunning explanation. Lavrov--who previously spent a decade as Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, where he mastered the body of international precedents and U.N.

Russia Isn't Being "provoked." So Maybe We Ought To Provoke Them
September 27, 2008

One of the topics not covered last night (but alluded to by Barack Obama) was the emergence of by a front of anti-American and populist tyrannies in the Southern half of the Western hemisphere. Their ideological models are Castroite and their symbol is Che Guevara. But no one really believes they are building a new world. Cuba has been too much a bust for official optimism to really capture the minds and hearts of the people elsewhere. You can see this already in Venezuela where the government is wildly unpopular.

Notes On An Invasion
September 01, 2008

The future of Russia's excursion in Georgia remains to be determined. But some conclusions can already be drawn: 1. Russian power is extraordinarily brutal in the post-Soviet era, as we have already seen in Chechnya. This brutality has been confirmed -- although on a smaller scale -- in the spectacle of the Russian army occupying a sovereign country, moving through it as it pleases, advancing and retreating at will, and casually destroying the military and civilian infrastructures of a young democracy as an astonished world watches. Today it is Georgia. Tomorrow will it be Ukraine?

Call It: How Obama Should Play Gustav
September 01, 2008

Campaigns despise the unpredictable nature of real world events unfolding in real time.

Obama's Russia Opportunity
August 18, 2008

Let's be honest--with the possible exception of that Saddleback forum (on which I hold the minority view), last week was not a good one for Obama. McCain looked engaged and authoritative on the Georgia crisis, despite the tawdriness of his pronouncements, while Obama seemed AWOL. Mike was exactly right on this--though it wasn't necessarily Obama's fault (I mostly blame an unfortunate coincidence of vacation timing), the atmospherics were lousy for a candidate who still has to clear the commander-in-chief threshold. One hopes Team Obama is well-prepared for the Musharraf resignation...

Russia's Own "We Bought It, We Paid For It, It's Ours"
August 16, 2008

While a few foreign policy watchers were sounding the alarm about the Caucasus months in advance, Russia's invasion of Georgia sent most of the public and the commentariat running to their world maps. To avoid a repeat, we should probably keep an eye on the next likely flashpoint: Ukraine. The IHT has an update on developments there, which turn on the status of Russia's naval base in Crimea: Ukraine, bigger than France and traditionally seen by Russians as integral to their heritage and dominion, has been conspicuously quiet over the past week.

Beyond Georgia: The Ripple Effects Of Russia's Attack
August 11, 2008

As the world watches Russian troops gather on its border with Georgia, we asked Central Asia expert Martha Brill Olcott to look at the broader implications of the recent fighting: Senators McCain and Obama are both trying to demonstrate their leadership capacities in their strong statements on the conflict between Russia and Georgia. But the man who takes power as president of the United States in January will have to confront circumstances quite unlike those upon which he is now commenting on.

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