Les Russes Nourrissent Autorité

Toutes les données dont nous disposons nous disent que les Russes nourrissent aujourd’hui un désir de verticalité, c’est-à-dire d’autorité. Si nous voulions recourir aux catégories de la psychanalyse, nous pourrions dire que les Russes attendent un chef qui fasse oublier le langage de la mère et se remette à imposer la langue du père.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Le mage du Kremlin: Greta Garbo

Puis-je vous poser une question ? Savez-vous quelle est la plus grande actrice de tous les temps ? » Poutine, inexpressif, secoua la tête.

« Greta Garbo. Et vous savez pourquoi ? Parce que l’idole qui se refuse renforce son pouvoir. Le mystère génère de l’énergie. La distance alimente la vénération. L’imaginaire de la société russe, de quelque société que ce soit, s’articule sur deux dimensions. L’axe horizontal correspond à la proximité du quotidien, et le vertical à l’autorité.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (pp. 93-94). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Le mage du Kremlin: ‘Les Russes jouent avec l’argent’

Les étrangers pensent que les nouveaux Russes sont obsédés par l’argent. Mais ce n’est pas ça. Les Russes jouent avec l’argent. Ils le jettent en l’air comme des confettis. Il est arrivé si vite et si abondamment. Hier il n’y en avait pas. Demain, qui sait ? Autant le claquer tout de suite. Chez vous, l’argent est essentiel, c’est la base de tout. Ici, je vous assure, ce n’est pas comme ça. Seul le privilège compte en Russie, la proximité du pouvoir. Tout le reste est accessoire. C’était comme ça du temps du tsar et pendant les années communistes encore plus. Le système soviétique était fondé sur le statut. L’argent ne comptait pas.

da Empoli, Giuliano. Le mage du Kremlin (French Edition) (p. 49). Editions Gallimard. Kindle Edition.

Certes ce roman, achevé par l’auteur en janvier 2021, éclaire l’actualité géopolitique d’une lumière pénétrante. Mais il lui survivra par son implacable lucidité et son style étincelant.

Le Monde (Macha Séry)

Was 2008 the Breaking Point in the West’s Relationship with Russia?

After [Bill] Clinton and his advisors left office, they could only watch in alarm as Bush’s son, George W. Bush, took the keys to the NATO car and gunned it down that open road. Among other stops, the younger Bush attended the alliance’s summits in 2006 in Latvia, the first such event on former Soviet territory, and in 2008 in Bucharest, where he pushed hard for inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine. For Putin, that Bucharest summit—coming on top of Bush’s 2003 invasion of Iraq and his 2007 decision to erect ballistic missile defenses (in the form of ten ground-based interceptors in Poland and a radar facility in the Czech Republic), all around the time of “color revolutions” in post-Soviet states—proved to be the breaking point.

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (p. 348). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted)

On the Importance of Ukraine in 1991

With roughly 52 million inhabitants at the time, Ukraine was, in population terms, both the second-largest Soviet republic and the size of a major European state; the British and French populations were 57 and 58 million, respectively. 135 Ukraine’s history as an East Slavic and predominantly Orthodox state had long been deeply intertwined with Russia’s. There were millions of ethnic Russians living among, and married to, Ukrainians. If Ukraine decided in its referendum of December 1, 1991 to become fully independent, it would at once commence a painful economic and political divorce from its fellow Slavs and also become a greater nuclear power than either Britain or France. Ukraine’s choices would clearly have such far-reaching effects. From Moscow, [U.S.] Ambassador [Robert S.] Strauss advised Washington that “the most revolutionary event of 1991 for Russia may not be the collapse of Communism, but the loss of something Russians of all political stripes think of as part of their own body politic, and near to the heart at that: Ukraine.”

Sarotte, M. E.. Not One Inch (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (pp. 126-127). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition (footnotes omitted).

Israel: Immigration from Russia and Ukraine Rises

The Times of Israel reports:

The past year saw the largest amount of Jewish immigration to Israel, or aliyah, in over two decades, with nearly 75,000 people making the move in 2022. Over three-quarters of these came from Russia and nearly 20% came from Ukraine, representing a roughly fivefold increase from the previous year . . .


In 2022, 3,500 people immigrated to Israel from North America, down from 4,400 the year before. The number of immigrants from France also dropped from 3,500 in 2021 to just over 2,000 in 2022.

What Constitutes Genocide?

Professor David A. Bell of Princeton writing in Substack in response to a charge of genocide made by Professor Timothy Snyder1 of Yale:

the geopolitical situation created by Putin’s invasion [of Ukraine] remains enormously dangerous, and we cannot only take into consideration the threat to the Ukrainians themselves when considering how to act. The war potentially threatens much more. The charge of genocide, however tempting it is to make, blinds us to this fact.

The war in Ukraine could spread and turn into a much larger conflict, that might include the use of nuclear weapons. There is much to consider.

  1. Professor Snyder has his own Substack newsletter↩︎

Russia: American Players Weigh Money vs. Freedom

The New York Times reports that American professional athletes continue to work in the Russian Federation despite Brittney Griner’s treatment there:

There are now an estimated 42 Americans playing or planning to play in Russia’s premier men’s basketball league, up from 30 a few months ago, according to tallies by American sports agents. An analysis of team rosters shows that there are an additional 29 American and Canadian hockey players who are signed to premier Russian teams this season, with some joining after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is even an American playing for the Russian woman’s basketball team that Ms. Griner represented before her arrest.

Report: Ukraine War Widening?

An unnamed U.S. defense source told The Times that the Pentagon is no longer insisting that Ukraine should not strike military targets within Russia:

The Pentagon has given a tacit endorsement of Ukraine’s long-range attacks on targets inside Russia after President Putin’s multiple missile strikes against Kyiv’s critical infrastructure.

Since daily assaults on civilians began in October, the Pentagon has revised its threat assessment of the war in Ukraine. Crucially, this includes new judgments about whether arms shipments to Kyiv might lead to a military confrontation between Russia and Nato.

On one level, there is a lot of coverage of the war in Ukraine. Despite all that coverage, I find it hard to tell how things are going except to say that there is no end in sight.

See also: ISW

Realism in International Relations Explained

John Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982.

Professor Mearsheimer believes that the great powers dominate the international system and they engage in an ongoing security competition with each other. Mearsheimer argues that the great powers of the world are primarily driven by a desire to achieve regional hegemony in an anarchic international system in which is there is no meaningful authority higher than the nation-state. For example, Mearsheimer asserts that China’s growing power will likely bring it into conflict with the United States.

This is a minority view among academics and policy-makers both in the United States and Europe. Yet, his views are worth understanding and considering. In this lecture, Professor Mearsheimer explains his point of view.

Although the Professor discusses Ukraine and Hungary, the lecture is generally applicable to international relations. Even if you end up not agreeing, the point of view is worth understanding.