Opinion / The Art of Diplomacy

That Boring War in Ukraine: Who’s to Blame?

My latest piece at DIPLOMAT magazine is all about European insecurity: Very broadly speaking, throughout the Cold War years the ‘West’ and the USSR dealt with each other within a policy framework nicknamed MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. The risk of mutual annihilation if a nuclear weapons exchange broke out was […]

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Ukraine v Russia: MAD or Big MAC

I’m so old that I can remember the Cold War and the nuclear deterrence doctrine called MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction. This was the simple idea that if country R launched a major nuclear missile attack on country A, country A would do the same against country R. And they’d both […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Chess

Almost everyone in Russia’s chess elite has come out against the Russian attack on Ukraine. Really impressive. Two notable exceptions are former World Champion Anatoly Karpov (whose whole career was all about being the Moscow ‘establishment’ figure) and Sergey Karjakin, whose tone-deaf banal sycophancy towards the Putin regime has destroyed […]

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Ukraine v Russia: The Logic of Punishment

Back in 2019 I wrote a piece for DIPLOMAT on how diplomacy defines and rewards success. It concluded with this striking thought: Why has the word ‘judgement’ been removed from its erstwhile pride of place in the FCO’s staff appraisal procedures? It features a mere four times in that rambling Civil […]

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Ukraine v Russia: DeNazification

Vladimir Putin and his propaganda machine put a lot of emphasis on their ambition to ‘denazify’ Ukraine: [Our] goal is to protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide by the Kiev regime for eight years. And for this we will strive for the demilitarisation and denazification of […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Big or Little Russians

Here is a gripping (if long) analysis of the Ukraine/Russia conflict by Claire Berlinksi. She quotes at length from a text called The Resolution of the Ukraine Question that briefly appeared in the Russian media when it seemed to be thought that Ukraine would collapse within a couple of days. […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Negotiations (2)

My previous post here opined on the broad features of any eventual ‘negotiations’ between Ukraine and Russia: One of the really key ideas in any negotiation between parties involved in a military conflict is this: You never win more at the negotiation table than you control on the ground.  But there’s […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Negotiations?

As of midday today (28 February 2022) there’s talk of Ukrainian and Russian delegations meeting to discuss a ceasefire. One of the really key ideas in any negotiation between parties involved in a military conflict is this: You never win more at the negotiation table than you control on the […]

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Putin on Ukraine

We’re all trying to work out what Vladimir Putin ‘really’ wants. Does he know? Does the idea of ‘someone knowing what they really want’ even make sense? Still, President Putin went out of his way to explain his policies and wider approach in his long televised address to the Russian […]

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World War Three

My latest DIPLOMAT piece – what if World War Three has started but we haven’t realised? So here we are (at the time of writing this) in mid-January 2022. As usual the British media are agog and aghast at various world issues.  The legal machinations of Prince Andrew.  Australia’s COVID […]

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