Opinion / General Interest

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?

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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Zoom Diplomacy

Then there’s this one on the zany new world of Zoom diplomacy: Legend has it that in a room in Number Ten one such special telephone sat unused, to the point where no-one could remember why it was there. One day to the shared consternation of both Prime Minister and […]

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Ukraine: Russia’s Death-Cult

In Budapest this week I learned that an Estonian diplomat recently asked someone from the inner circle of Putin ideologues where all this latest Russian aggressive posturing and behaviour were going to end. “It ends when you stop us”. * * * * * The key features of the current […]

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Consular Work

My latest piece for DIPLOMAT (now in groovy online format) looks at Consular work. Thus: The world is a big place, replete with unexpected problems. Tsunamis, earthquakes, avalanches, terrorist or criminal attacks, robberies, lost passports, aircraft/train/car accidents, sex-traps, arrests, illness, poisonous spiders, unrest at football matches, kidnappings, coups d’état, drug-smuggling, […]

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Diana’s Own Words

Channel 5 has shown a rather good programme about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales as revealed by her public speeches and interviews. Here is the link – it no doubt will fade away from the Internet soon. I was interviewed for this and for a companion programme on […]

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British Accents

Can you spot a fake British accent? Can you spot a real one? Once back in Belgrade I was talking to a woman married to a Dutch diplomat. I told her that her English was absolutely superb. She told me that she WAS English. The point was that as she […]

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