Episodes
Ukraine's Ten Point Peace Plan, which received only limited endorsement at the recent Swiss Peace Summit, is essentially a demand for Russia's surrender. Putin's recent statement of conditions for negotiations is likewise a call for Kyiv to capitulate. Is this a complete impasse? Yes and no -- they are best considered as 'pre-peace positioning' in preparation for any future talks, whenever they happen, and a survey arranged by the Carnegie Endowment gives some interesting insights as to how t...
Published 06/16/24
Published 06/16/24
Putin's lengthy Q&A at the St Petersburg International Forum (SPIEF), in conversation with hawkish academic Sergei Karaganov, provided a useful opportunity to gauge his mood and his vision for both war and peace. From whether Russia is European (yes) to whether he needs to go nuclear in Ukraine (no), one can certainly question many of his claims and assumptions, but he sounded more confident than he has in a while.The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides so...
Published 06/09/24
An episode of various bits and pieces: what (if anything) can we read into Alexei Dyumin's appointment to be secretary of the State Council, what (if anything) is the Western thinking about escalation and deterrence over Ukraine and what (if anything) is interesting about Denis Manturov, the new First Deputy PM?The previous podcast in which I talk about Dyumin and Tula is #48, here.The article I wrote with Ekaterina Schulmann comparing the State and Security Councils is here.The podcast's cor...
Published 06/02/24
What is behind the current spate of corruption-related arrests within the Russian military? Fears of a coup, an FSB takeover, punishing the generals for a badly-fought war? I'd say it is what it seems, an attempt to tackle waste in a time of war. That doesn't mean this kleptocracy is changing its spots, though: even within corrupt systems, anti-corruption campaigns can be mobilised for a range of purposes.The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for in...
Published 05/26/24
There has been an unexpectedly interesting and extensive reshuffle of the Russian government, but what does it mean? I suggest it is about creating an enduring militarised, mobilised state, preserving Putin's rule not least through elevating a new generation of leaders and preparing to play generations against each other.Details of the 28 May Cambridge event I mentioned (including the livestream link) are here.The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software f...
Published 05/19/24
Reading Barbara Emerson's excellent The First Cold War: Anglo-Russian Relations in the 19th Century got me thinking more about the nature of British-Russian relations, which really date back to the 16th century, why we each loom so large in the other's geopolitical imagination, and why Russia is torn between extreme Anglophilia and Anglophobia.The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare, coun...
Published 05/12/24
The case of Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov, long known as 'king of the kickback,' but only now arrested and charged, provides a good opportunity to consider how corruption is so central to Putin's system, not simply as a reward mechanism to pay off the loyal, but also as a control mechanism and even a social one.The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare, counter-terrorism, civil affai...
Published 05/05/24
In the first part, I talk about some of the issues raised by a recent article in Foreign Affairs by Sam Charap and Sergei Radchenko for negotiations between Ukraine and Russia whenever they actually happen.In the second I dig into the rise and challenges of Viktor Zolotov, head of the National Guard.The Foreign Affairs article I mention is here.The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare, cou...
Published 04/21/24
Why are some individuals, parties, even countries still so willing to believe (or at least affect to believe) Putin's nonsense? As a way of trying to explain it, I turn to the intelligence recruitment acronym MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise and Ego. In the second half, I look at another potential up-and-comer, Yuri Trutnev, deputy PM and presidential representative of the Far East, and wonder if he might have a non-standard political trajectory in mind. The podcast's corporate partner and...
Published 04/14/24
Is Putin's Russia becoming a revolutionary state? A recent article on RT by Dmitry Trenin, once one of the doyens of Russian foreign policy analysis, suggests so, but perhaps doesn't go far enough. I consider Trenin's piece in conjunction with others by Fedor Lukyanov and one Henry Johnston, to wonder whether Putin, in so many ways the arch conservative, is being forced to reinvent himself as a revolutionary under pressure of events since his invasion of Ukraine. PS: I did say it wasn't...
Published 04/07/24
After a sham election and a ghastly terrorist attack (and a pretty ghastly official response), time to talk about something else: sex, drugs and rock & roll. Well, demography, access to pharmaceuticals, and the state's culture war in music, film and beyond - but that's almost the same, isn't it? The Shaman video I mentioned is here, while if you want to see the trailer for Turist, it's here. For a more wholesome watch, the trailer for Cheburashka is here. The podcast's corporate...
Published 03/31/24
What a week it has been. I give my initial thoughts on the awful terrorist attack on the outskirts of Moscow, and then pivot to some further lessons of the sham presidential elections. It's all joy, all the time, here at In Moscow's Shadows... There are further details of Vienna event at the Kreisky Forum on 8 April here, and on the Newcastle University public lecture on 16 May here. The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and...
Published 03/24/24
Russia's presidential elections are coming to a close, and while Putin's landslide victory is a foregone conclusion in light of the manipulation of the process (I write about that here), that doesn't mean these elections don't matter. I discuss the things I'll be looking for, ranging from how the votes are allocated, through the potential for a cabinet reshuffle, to how this fits into wider political processes, from the cultivation of a new loyalist elite to the risk of a further mobilisation...
Published 03/17/24
Are we failing properly to consider the danger as the Kremlin turns to Russian-based organised crime groups abroad to make up for the expulsion of so many of its spies abroad and the constraints of the sanctions regime? I think so -- and here I explain why. The ECFR Crimintern report I mention is here, and Rebellion as Racket, for the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime is here. The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for...
Published 03/09/24
An episode, I admit, on the nerdier end of the spectrum, as I dig into Putin's latest State of the Union, both for the detail and also for three big take-aways: that this was a stealth stump speech, that it left unanswered how (or if) the ambitious 6-year plan would be funded, and that it marks a new stage in Putin's Sovietisation. My earlier video on the speech is here. The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis...
Published 03/02/24
Avenging may not be quite the right word, but what can the West do to punish the Kremlin for Navalny's death and furthering his cause in ways worthy of him? I set out some practical proposals. The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare, counter-terrorism, civil affairs and similar situations. You can also follow my blog, In Moscow's Shadows, and become one of the podcast's supporting...
Published 02/25/24
Well, not really, but how Navalny's awful death helps illustrate how late Putinism in its 'banana republic' phase comes to resemble the later Soviet era -- and what this may mean for its future. My video on Navalny is here and Sunday Times article is here. The Moskovsky  Komsomolets article I cite is here. The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare, counter-terrorism, civil affairs and...
Published 02/18/24
Is the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad a dangerous Russian bastion threatening the West, a point of vulnerability for Moscow, or a potential point of reconnection with Europe? How about a mix of all three -- and also an example of how even figures from a new 'Putin generation' politician can be technocrats rather than zealots. In the second half, a brief rumination about how  simulation exercises like Conducttr's recent Kaliningrad Crucible can help if not prediction, at least analysis. The...
Published 02/11/24
As I'm travelling this weekend, this episode is a compilation of two sets of comparative book reviews already provided to my Patrons. First up, three recent books on Russia that, together, would make up one pretty fine, balanced and comprehensive one... Thomas Graham, Getting Russia Right (Polity)Richard Sakwa, The Lost Peace (Yale)Leon Aron, Riding the Tiger (AEI)In the second half, three more books, this time all about Ukraine: Maria Popova & Oxana Shevel, Russia and Ukraine. Entangled...
Published 02/04/24
Barring particularly high-profile developments, we tend to look at Russia through the prism of Moscow (and maybe St Petersburg). How good a picture does this give us? To try and redress the balance, I use a recent Association D'Est report on 'Grassroots Propaganda and Repression in Russia's Komi Republic' to consider some of the wider lessons about protest and resistance in the provinces... The D'Est webage is here, and you can learn more about the Bear Market brief here (substack) and here...
Published 01/28/24
A podcast of two halves. First of all, I look at the dilemmas and limitations facing European (EU and UK) strategy over Ukraine. Why is it so hard? After the break, I consider another of the younger officials sometimes listed as an up-and-comer: Moscow region governor Andrei Vorobyov. Why do I not really rate him? The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare, counter-terrorism, civil affairs...
Published 01/21/24
The essence of podcasting and punditry may be to peddle confident certainties, but often we don’t really know. So today I raise some important questions to which I really don’t know the answer, but which, alas, matter. When will Russians' patience run out? What will the next 'black swan' disruptor be? Would a ceasefire in 2024 benefit Ukraine more than Russia? The Foreign Affairs article by Emma Ashford and Kelly A. Grieco I cite is here. The KCL event I mention is here, the programme of...
Published 01/14/24
Russia is still gripped by an egg crisis, after prices rose 46% last year. Now the security apparatus is investigating hoarding and profiteering, the Agriculture Ministry is talking price controls and Lukashenko is having some fun at Putin's expense. At the risk of sounding glib, in this podcast I explain why the crisis explains everything you need to know about Putin's Russia... The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive...
Published 01/07/24
Less whimsical than the last one, the final episode of 2023 looks ahead to the coming year:  the candidates for the presidential elections, the prospects for the war, and - spinning off a deeply-bizarre interview with hawkish academic Sergei Karaganov - whether the Kremlin can find a convincing narrative. The Karaganov interview is here. The podcast's corporate partner and sponsor is Conducttr, which provides software for innovative and immersive crisis exercises in hybrid warfare,...
Published 12/29/23