The Great Debate

Putin waging information war in Ukraine worthy of George Orwell

By Lucian Kim
November 14, 2014

A chicken walks near a residential block and a car damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk

It was a familiar scenario this week. First the government in Kiev said that Russia was sending convoys of men and weapons to support pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. Then U.S. General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander in Europe, confirmed those claims, saying “there is no question anymore about Russia’s direct military involvement in Ukraine.” His remarks were summarily denied by the Russian Defense Ministry, which said it had stopped paying attention to his “unfounded proclamations.”

Building Berlin’s Wall helped avoid a nuclear confrontation

By Nina Khrushcheva
November 7, 2014

West Berliners walk in front of the Berlin wall at the Allied checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

Twenty-five years ago Sunday, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev refused to use force when thousands of people from East and West converged to pull down the Berlin Wall. He taught us all a great lesson: No wall can hold back democracy. Since then, however, Russian President Vladimir Putin has taught another lesson: If a country’s people don’t want democracy enough, no Berlin Wall is needed to keep it out.

25 years after its fall, Vladimir Putin puts Berlin Wall’s lessons front and center

By Lucian Kim
November 7, 2014

East German citizens climb the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate after the opening of the border was announced

On Nov. 9, Germans will celebrate the 25th anniversary of one of the most beautiful moments in their troubled history: the day that ordinary people, with ordinary aspirations, brought down the Berlin Wall. Not a shot was fired, not a drop of blood was shed, and in less than a year, divided Germany was reunited, paving the way for the reunification of a continent cut in two by the Cold War.

Putin’s created an economic crisis and left Moscow no easy way out

By William E. Pomeranz
November 4, 2014

Russia's President Putin chairs a meeting with members of the government at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow

Western sanctions have left Russia in dire financial circumstances — stuck somewhere between recession and stagnation. Though proven solutions exist for what now ails Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s geo-strategic and political choices have rendered these traditional economic approaches unworkable.

Putin’s Moscow is anxious, gilded and hollow

By Lucian Kim
October 25, 2014

Putin chairs a meeting with members of the presidential council for civil society and human rights at the Kremlin in Moscow

The last time I saw Maria Baronova on Nikolskaya Street in Moscow, she was taking part in a silent anti-government demonstration before being bundled into a police bus with a half dozen other protesters. Now, almost three years later, we meet for a beer in an English pub on that same ancient street near the Kremlin. So much has changed. The Moscow protest movement fizzled out after Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency; activists like Baronova were prosecuted, and a blanket of repression is muffling the last voices of dissent.

‘In Putin’s mind, Ukraine is not a nation’

By Jason Fields
October 14, 2014

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How dangerous is Vladimir Putin?

Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans moderated a panel of experts searching for answers to that question at a Newsmaker event hosted at the company’s Times Square offices in New York on Oct. 14. The panel was comprised of New Yorker Editor David Remnick, author of the award winning Lenin’s Tomb, former chess champion and Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen and Roger Altman, who served in the Treasury Department under presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, and is currently chairman of investment advisory firm Evercore.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Will the European economy’s summer squalls turn into an autumn tempest?

By Anatole Kaletsky
October 3, 2014

Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) answers reporter's questions during his monthly news conference at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt

Following the grim market response to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s latest monetary policy pronouncements, Europe is approaching another make-or-break moment comparable to the crisis of 2012. The summer quarter ended this week, and financial markets delivered their judgment on just how bad things are, pushing the euro down to its lowest level since September 2012. Europe’s quarterly stock market performance was the worst since the nadir of the euro crisis. The question is whether the miserable summer will give way to a milder autumn. Or whether the summer squalls will turn into a catastrophic tempest.

Is there a new crack in the West’s sanctions regime against Russia?

By William E. Pomeranz
September 26, 2014

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President Barack Obama’s speech at the United Nations Wednesday offered to roll back the U.S. sanctions if Russia takes the “path of diplomacy and peace.” This overture comes on the heels of an emerging ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine and continuing discussions in Minsk to find a political solution to the turmoil in eastern Ukraine.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

Why this Ukraine ceasefire will stick

By Anatole Kaletsky
September 19, 2014

A boy sits on an APC as he poses for a picture during a parade in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine

The war in eastern Ukraine, which has had more impact on the European economy than any news coming out of Frankfurt or Brussels, appears to be ending. Despite the sporadic attacks that have wrecked previous ceasefire attempts.

Russians love their children, too – but that alone won’t stop a nuclear war

By Masha Gessen
September 16, 2014

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Back when most of today’s Western decision-makers were in college, Sting had a hit song with “Russians.” It began: