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Links – September 21, 2014

A confusing variety of opinions on the Russian far right.

Ukrainian officials have claimed, and Russian officials have denied, that Russia used tactical nuclear weapons on the Lugansk airport. If nuclear weapons were used, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System would pick up both seismic signals and radioisotopes in the air. They’ve said nothing, so the Ukrainian officials are wrong here.

Timothy Garton Ash on what Europe needs to do in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin’s officemate in Dresden tells all!

Sunday Comics


Artist: Jimmy Marguiles

Artist: Brian Duffy

Artist: Paresh Nath

Artist: Patrick Chappatte

Artist: Mike Smith

Artist: Marshall Ramsey



A Long And Painful Slog

There is a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine that seems to be accompanied by a fair amount of artillery bombardment, although an improvement over a few weeks back. Talks are more or less in progress toward some sort of settlement. It’s hard to get through the spin on both sides, but here are some interesting developments from more or less reliable sources.

Ukraine has passed legislation that is being subjected to the horse-race test of American journalism, which finds it a win for Putin, so we can all go home. Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko would beg to differ [...]

Alternative History – NATO Never Expands

320Swedish bombe

A number of foreign policy realists (Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Henry Kissinger) have accused NATO of provoking Russia’s attack on Ukraine by expanding into former Soviet satellites and republics. It’s fair enough to ask what might have happened had NATO not expanded.

A realist dictum is that power vacuums will be filled. Had NATO not expanded, there would have been a power vacuum along the swath of countries from the Gulf of Finland to the Black Sea. In the real world, NATO filled that vacuum, as those countries recovered from Soviet domination. Here’s a possible [...]

Sunday Comics


Recent editorial cartoons.

Artist: Adam Zyglis

Artist: Payam Boromand

Artist: Roger Dahl

Artist: Mike Luckovich Asher S

Artist: Dave Granlund Jack Ohman

Artist: Bob Englehart Farley Katz

George Kennan, The Long Telegram, And Russia in 2014 – Part 4

160CP 1919

George Kennan’s Long Telegram is surprisingly relevant to today’s Russia.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Most of Kennan’s Part 4,

Following May Be Said as to What We May Expect by Way of Implementation of Basic Soviet Policies on Unofficial, or Subterranean Plane, i.e. on Plane for Which Soviet Government Accepts no Responsibility,

is conditioned by the time in which he wrote it and the particulars of Communist Party operationand is therefore less directly relevant to today’s situation. Kennan believed that the system of European colonies would [...]

Molotov-Ribbentrop And The Baltic Way

320Molotov Ribbentrop

This past weekend saw the anniversaries of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and one very effective response to it.

Saturday, August 23, was the 75th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The M-R Pact consisted of two parts, one open and one secret. The open part was a nonaggression agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union not to attack each other. The secret part was how they intended to divide up the part of Europe that lay between them after they conquered it. Germany broke the open part by invading the Soviet Union over a year later, on June 22, [...]

Sunday Comics


Recent editorial cartoons.

Artist: Ali Davandari

Artist: Clay Bennett

Artist: JR Rose

Artist: Patrick Chappatte

Artist: Rick McKee

Artist: Tom Stiglich

George Kennan, The Long Telegram, And Russia in 2014 – Part 3

175Kennan NYRB

George Kennan’s Long Telegram is surprisingly relevant to today’s Russia.

Part 1

Part 2

Kennan’s Part 3: Projection of Soviet Outlook in Practical Policy on Official Level

In his part 3, George Kennan looks at the implementation of the Soviet/Russian outlook. Kennan considered the outlook to be not just Soviet, but consistent with Russian thinking before the 1917 revolution. That consistency continues today. As in my first two posts, Kennan’s words are italicized.

Soviet policy… is conducted on two planes: (1) official plane represented by actions undertaken officially in name [...]