Russia

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. »

Inside Putin’s underpants op

Featured image I don’t recall reading anything like Paul Roderick Gregory’s Hill column — “The Kremlin, FSB, and the ‘Berlin patient’s’ underpants” — and related news stories. The Coen Brothers could turn it to good use in a film like Burn After Reading. Gregory tells how Vladimir Putin’s would-be assassination victim Aleksei Navalny extracted an account of the operation from the failed FSB assassin Konstantin Kudryavtsev himself. In a four-hour December 17 »

How to read a society

Featured image The original source of this quote from Theodore Dalrymple (Anthony Daniels) appears to date to a 2005 Frontpage article or interview that is no longer accessible online: Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to »

One-trick pony

Featured image Peter Doocy had the temerity to ask Joe Biden about the smartest man he knows — Hunter Biden. Hunter is so smart that he became a millionaire with no visible talent to sell. I seriously doubt that Joe Biden is in a position to evaluate the relative intellectual capacity of the men he knows. Doocy has asked the question a time or two before without much success, but Biden really »

Biden’s Brezhnev vibes

Featured image Born in the Soviet Union, Katya Sedgwick now lives in the United States. She brings a valuable cross cultural-perspective to our perception of Joe Biden’s age-related mental impairment in the Spectator USA column “Biden’s Brezhnev vibes.” She discusses Brezhnev’s impaired physical condition and relates: [W]atching news segments on TV, it was hard to avoid conclusion that the general secretary was unfit to rule. His speech was slurred, and his movements »

Suicide of the liberals

Featured image We have previously drawn attention to Professor Gary Saul Morson’s New Criterion essay “How the great truth dawned,” Professor Morson’s New Criterion lecture “Leninthink,” Professor Morson’s New York Review of Books review “The horror, the horror,” and Professor Morson’s book Narrative and Freedom: The Shadows of Time (Steve wrote about it here). To these I now want to add Professor Morson’s First Things essay “Suicide of the liberals.” Drawing on »

A diplomatic breakthrough the media would like to ignore

Featured image The Trump administration has helped broker a deal between Serbia and Kosovo, two former arch-enemies that were part of the former Yugoslavia. The agreement is receiving scant attention from the mainstream media for reasons I’ll address below. However, it’s an important deal — more so, I think, than the agreement between Israel and the UAE, which mostly ratified existing realities. The main significance of the Serbia-Kosovo agreement is its potential »