What can we expect from the summit meeting between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin?
That is the expectation that Biden is setting. There will be no grand pronouncements, no reset, maybe not even a perfunctory statement of agreement on a minor point. That is part of the reason that Biden plans to hold a press conference by himself. The other part, of course, is in contrast with Donald Trump’s disastrous showing at Helsinki.
But the meeting is necessary and important. Russia is a major country, with a nuclear arsenal equivalent to America’s. Russia is adjacent to our allies in Europe and supplies energy to many of them. It has a long land border across which untoward things can happen. Those are reason enough for the leaders to meet.
This is a compilation of Russian news you might not have heard. There’s a lot going on in Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s popularity is flagging, so much so that his United Russia Party had to resort to shady dealings in recent elections in Russia’s Far East. The retirement age for pensions has been raised, and people are not happy. They’ve just mounted a big military exercise, but probably not as big as they claim. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church will probably split organizationally from the Russian Orthodox Church.
Paul Goble worked in the State Department during the breakup of the Soviet Union. He retired some time ago and has taught in universities in Estonia. He speaks Russian and Estonian. He maintains a blog, Window on Eurasia, where he summarizes news and opinion from Russia and its neighbors in English. I’ll draw on his posts and a few other sources to note recent developments in Russia. This is far from exhaustive, and probably not even indicative of larger trends. Just things that are happening. Read More
What do interviews in the 1980s and 1990s with Donald Trump tell us about his attitudes toward Russia and nuclear weapons?
The interviews are oblivious to world events taking place at that time. They are basically gossip columns by Lois Romano and William E. Geist, 1984; Ron Rosenbaum, 1987; Mark Singer, 1997. Descriptions of Trump’s lavish quarters and sycophantic workers, his expensive clothes, and his ease in getting a table at a restaurant figure prominently in the introductory paragraphs. Read More
Donald Trump denounced the New START Treaty in his first phonecall with Vladimir Putin. Putin brought up the treaty, which is coming up for renewal in 2021, so talks should be starting soon. The treaty limits the numbers of nuclear weapons for Russia and the United States, preventing an arms race. But the treaty was negotiated under Barack Obama, so in Trump’s mind, it is a bad treaty. Read More
This story goes back to 2007, when Israel bombed a nuclear reactor under construction in Syria. It’s a detailed account from Michael Hayden, who was director of the CIA at the time. The uncertainties and the complexity of the story are normal for international affairs, and thus the story is a good example of the kind of thing President Donald Trump will face. Short version: Syria builds a nuclear reactor to produce bomb material. Israel wants America to destroy it. America refuses, Israel bombs the site. The world learns it was a reactor. But the whole thing is worth reading. Photo: The reactor before it was bombed. Read More