Opinion / Russia, Ukraine, former Soviet Union

Ukraine v Russia: Negotiating with a Bully

China and India boldly … call for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine! Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Russia and Ukraine to “keep the crisis from spilling over” and from affecting developing countries. “China supports all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis. […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Going Nuclear?

Vladimir Putin’s disastrous, incompetent, stupid, not-good invasion of Ukraine is proving to be disastrous, incompetent, stupid, not-good and many more. So what to do? Make things worse! Here’s the Kremlin website version of his latest speech announcing mass mobilisations to build a larger army and making all sorts of threats […]

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Cheating at Chess

The normally placid backwaters of the chess world are foaming with controversy! Why is world champion Magnus Carlsen refusing to play young US chess player Hans Niemann, while dropping ill-disguised hints or insinuations that Nieman has been cheating? Boo! See eg here: England’s leading female player, Jovanka Houska, accused Carlsen […]

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Mikhail Gorbachev – Communist Witchcraft?

Mikhail Gorbachev has died. Plenty of glowing tributes to him in the Western media. Russians up to and including V Putin may be rather less forthcoming. Here’s a nice account of his various visits to the UK over the years. Gulp. It’s now nearly 40 YEARS since 1985 when Mikhail […]

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Ukraine v Russia: Now What?

Ukraine v Russia drags on. Ukraine saw off Moscow’s attempts to take Kyiv and is now pushing back hard against Russian positions in eastern Ukraine, notably the Kherson area. Western weapons are hitting Russian targets hard, although Russian weapons are doing plenty of damage on Ukrainian targets. It’s hard for […]

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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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