Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

Russia: Now What?

Vladimir Putin wins a landslide victory! Six more years! Even Vladimir Zhirinovsky complains that Russia is no longer a democracy, and he should know! Once upon a time there was a Cold War. We all knew where we were amidst ‘East-West (sic) relations’. Responses to policy moves could be fine-tuned. […]

Continue Reading

Skripal: Expelling Spies (Again)

Back in January last year I opined on the negotiation psychology of spy expulsions: It’s of course possible that as part of its New Psychological Approach, Moscow chooses deliberately to work out what everyone expects then not do that. Think about it. You cause the other side to think hard about […]

Continue Reading

Starting a Speech by Being Funny

This is my most popular answer on Quora with over 20,000 views, replying to an interesting question: What is the funniest opening line that you have heard (or said) in a public speech? Hmm. Right Ho, Jeeves “Boys,” said Gussie, “I mean ladies and gentlemen and boys, I do not […]

Continue Reading

Assange is Not a Diplomat (2)

+++ UPDATE +++ I have changed my mind about the A38 point mentioned below. See my next posting here. * * * * *  Craig Murray (of course) weighs in in favour of Ecuador’s apparent claim (or at least request) that J Assange is now an Ecuador diplomat entitled to […]

Continue Reading

Assange is Not a Diplomat

He’s still there. An increasingly greasy Julian Assange lurks on in the twilight world of the Ecuador Embassy in London. Along comes a new idea for Ecuador to try. Make him an Ecuador citizen and appoint him an Ecuador diplomat, then the Brits will have to allow him to leave as […]

Continue Reading

The Logic of Sanctions

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT looks at sanctions. Crime? Punishment! Thus: Back in the day when I was paid to do diplomacy, it was a refreshing if not a bracing bucketful of icy water to hear Russian diplomats talking about their professional discipline. I remember one telling me about a […]

Continue Reading

Catalonia – Your Questions Answered

Baffled by the goings-on in Catalonia? I answer your basic questions. Can Catalonia be an independent country? In principle, why not? It has a population of some 7.5 million people, so as an independent state it would be comfortably in the top half of the world’s country population league rankings […]

Continue Reading

Dr Strangelove and North Korea

I’m back at Commentator. This time on missile defence: It’s almost impossible to grasp now. Back in 1962 live nuclear bomb tests were an actual thing. The nuclear powers tested their weapons and raced to develop new ones. There were 178 nuclear explosions around the world that year. Almost one […]

Continue Reading

President Trump v North Korea

President Trump’s UNGA speech had one of the most remarkable passages ever heard in that building: If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life … The United States has great strength […]

Continue Reading

President Trump at UNGA (1)

President Trump has given his first UNGA speech. Transcript here. Watch him in full here. These annual UNGA speeches are strange affairs. Typically bland, dull, formulaic, packed with self-important platitudes. No-one cares. That’s why when a leader says or does something drastically not like that, it gets noticed. The late […]

Continue Reading
Newer EntriesOlder Entries