Russia

Are China and Russia unhappy to see the U.S. abandon the Afghans?

Featured image Almost every sentence of Joe Biden’s little talk about Afghanistan was dishonest, flawed, or both. Here’s one example. Biden said: Our true strategic competitors — China and Russia — would love nothing more than the United States to continue to funnel billions of dollars in resources and attention into stabilizing Afghanistan indefinitely. The U.S. was spending about $52 billion a year to support its military effort in Afghanistan and about »

And now, the Putin factor

Featured image Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports that Tucker Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin shortly before Tucker accused the National Security Agency of monitoring his electronic communications for nefarious purposes — according to “sources familiar with the conversations.” Draw your own conclusions from this: The NSA’s public statement didn’t directly deny that any Carlson communications had been swept up by the agency. • »

Analyzing Dostoyevsky

Featured image Northwestern’s Gary Saul Morson takes a look at three new studies of Dostoyevsky in the July 1 New York Review of Books review “Dostoevsky and His Demons.” Subhead: “Three biographers take different approaches to the great writer’s life, which often resembled his most fantastic tales.” It’s an excellent review that takes a brief detour into Freudian analysis of Dostoyevsky. I found this funny: After Dostoevsky’s death, more legends accumulated. Best »

Washington Post confesses error on the Russia collusion story

Featured image It’s not an explicit confession of error, of course, but consider this line that appears well into a report about Joe Biden’s meeting with Vladimir Putin: “Putin’s high hopes for Trump delivered little for Moscow.” How can that be? The Post, the Democrats, and more than a few Never Trumpers told us that Trump colluded with Putin. Had that been true, Trump would have delivered for Moscow or else been »

Soft-on-Russia-Biden rejects State Department’s advice on sanctions

Featured image Secretary of State Antony Blinken is no one’s idea of a hardliner. For example, he’s leading the charge to appease Iran in the hope that, with the pot sweetened, the mullahs will permit the U.S. to reenter the nuclear deal. But Blinken is what passes for a hardliner in the feckless Biden administration. Reportedly, he strongly urged Joe Biden to sanction the company and the CEO behind the Nord Stream »

Those 16 sectors

Featured image Whatever President Biden had to say at his press conference after his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Geneva yesterday, it wasn’t worth the price. The price, that is, of giving Putin a stage on which to disparage the United States with a variety of left-wing talking points. Moreover, if Biden said to Putin what he said he said — the White House has posted the text of Biden’s comments here »

Biden yields to Putin on Nord Stream 2 pipeline

Featured image Axios reports that the Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany. This means, in all likelihood, that the pipeline will become operational. That’s a huge win for Vladimir Putin. Why? For one thing, as Axios says, Russian gas currently has to pass through Ukraine on its way to Europe. Bypassing Ukraine with a direct pipeline »

The Giuliani corrections

Featured image I expressed my doubt about two of Rudy Giuliani’s statements to Tucker Carlson last week here. They discussed the search warrants executed at his home and office in connection with the investigation of an alleged Foreign Agents Registration Act violation. In that post I also took a cynical look at two New York Times stories on the case giving rise to the warrants. I don’t take anything either Giuliani or »

Sean McMeekin: The story behind “Stalin’s War”

Featured image Sean McMeekin is Francis Flournoy Professor of European History and Culture at Bard College and the author of Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II, officially published by Basic Books today. Professor McMeekin is one of the most prominent of the younger generation of historians of the Soviet Union. His first book — The Red Millionaire — is a personal favorite of mine. He graciously accepted my invitation »

Joe Biden is weak on Russia, Donald Trump was not

Featured image As I contended here, when it came to Russia, Donald Trump spoke softly but carried a stick. He didn’t attack Vladimir Putin personally, but he punished Russian misconduct to some extent and took meaningful measures to thwart Russian expansionism. So far, Joe Biden has adopted the opposite approach. He calls Putin “a killer,” but does not meaningfully punish Russia, even as it amasses large forces on the border of Ukraine. »

Putin tests Biden, as well he might

Featured image John wrote below about the heightened threat Russia is now posing to Ukraine. Taking an American-centric view of the matter, some news outlets characterize Russia’s move as “testing Biden.” Russia’s actions will test Biden. But it doesn’t follow that Vladimir Putin is taking these actions for that purpose. I think it’s true, however, that our adversaries are far more likely to take aggressive action against our allies when they sense »

War In Ukraine?

Featured image America’s adversaries are on the march. China has suppressed Hong Kong and threatens Taiwan, along with Japan and other Asian allies of America. ISIS is rearing its head again in the Middle East. And Russia is once again threatening Ukraine. Russia now has more troops along its border with Ukraine than at any time since 2014, and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has little hope that war can be avoided. Moscow’s »

This Day In History

Featured image On March 26, 1921, the London Times reported on a trade overture by Soviet Russia to the Warren Harding administration: The American Administration has lost no time in answering the Note from the Soviet Government appealing to President Harding to open trade negotiations. It was only on Tuesday that the State Department received the Soviet Note, which declared, presumably as a sort of bait, that “the Soviet Government has not »

Who Will Stand Up To the Chinese and Russians?

Featured image It is early days, obviously, but nevertheless it is reasonable to expect the Biden administration to return to the passive posture of weakness and international retreat, including, at times, outright anti-Americanism, that characterized the Obama years. With both Russia and, especially, China resurgent, is there anyone else who can stand in their way? Actually, there may be. Foreign Policy has a surprisingly (to me) optimistic assessment of the strategic situation »

Washington Post spins the fiasco in Anchorage

Featured image Yesterday, John wrote about “the fiasco in Anchorage,” in which a Chinese diplomat excoriated the U.S. for 20 minutes, using the American left’s favorite talking points. Secretary of State Blinken had opened the door for the attack by criticizing China in a two minute statement. Blinken knew that China would respond in kind, but figured it would limit itself to two minutes, as the parties had agreed. Apparently, Blinken hasn’t »

Investigative journalism, Russian style

Featured image New York Times media reporter Ben Smith has the intensely interesting story “How Investigative Journalism Flourished in Hostile Russia.” The crazy brave dissident Alexei Navalny turns up in Smith’s bullet points: Mr. Navalny’s foundation flew drones over Mr. Putin’s palace, a vast estate on the Black Sea that Mr. Navalny labeled “the World’s Biggest Bribe” in a scathing, mocking nearly two-hour video he released on his return to Russia last »

Navalny speaks

Featured image I wrote about Vladimir Putin’s poisoning of Alex Navalny in “Inside Putin’s underpants op.” It’s an incredible story. For background I recommend Leonid Bershidsky’s January 18 Bloomberg column “Navalny vs. Putin is an epic existential battle.” Perhaps even more incredible is Navalny’s subsequent return to Russia. Bershidsky’s column on Navalny’s return is here. Having returned to Russia, Navalny has now been sentenced to prison for three and a half years. »