Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Multipolarity and Ukraine

Stephen Blank, in Kyiv Post:
The only sovereignty Moscow recognizes or respects is its own. It certainly does not believe itself to be bound by law, domestic or international. Neither does it consider itself obliged to follow UN resolutions that are against its interests. Instead, as Condoleezza Rice wrote a decade ago, the doctrine of multipolarity leads to a world based on force where the strong do what they can and the smaller states suffer what they must accept. i.e. a world ruled by unbounded force.
Indeed, Russia’s continuing resort to force in its peripheries expresses many important truths about the nature of Putin’s regime. First, it shows that the resort to war to resolve political rivalries continues to be the regime’s logical conclusion to the denial of post-Soviet states’ sovereignty and the aspiration for territorial and imperial aggrandizement. Indeed, empire or what one might call imperial circuses has become the raison d’etre of the Putin regime since it cannot and will not give its people bread.
Imperial aggrandizement and adventures reinforce the narrative of Russia’s greatness and condition of being surrounded by enemies while also fortifying the notion of Putin as a powerful statesman whom the West fears and Russia as a similarly great and feared power. But this not merely a cynical propaganda ploy. The regime actually believes it is in a state of long-term multi-dimensional war with the West even though no shots are being fired by the two sides. Thus Russia acts as if it is and considers itself to be at war with NATO not just the United States.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Irina Ratushinskaya

I was very sad to hear the news of the passing of the Russian poet Irina Ratushinskaya, some of whose work I translated in the 1980s and 1990s.

Obituaries have been published in the Guardian and the Times.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Panic and sabotage

The Russian Reader has published an English translation of the Novaya Gazeta article by Elena Milashina, in which she describes the background to the journalistic investigation of evidence of extrajudicial killings in Chechnya:
On April 20, we handed over to police investigators information about two men who, we had concluded, had been killed during the anti-gay campaign in Chechnya. Our journalistic investigation, in fact, began with attempting to clarify what had happened to these two men
We sent all information about the murdered men to investigators for their review as soon as we received it. We also gave the Russian Investigative Committee the anonymous testimony of the surviving victims, who had been kept in secret prisons and gone through terrible torture. This testimony aided investigators in independently and successfully establishing the identities of the victims, according to our information.