Defense One Radio: Vlad the Invader

I was on the Defense One Radio Podcast on Friday, together with some other guests, talking about the larger context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. You can listen or read the transcript here. Here’s a sample:

Watson: I’m wondering, what is your read on this next generation of power brokers in Russia, and their interest in Putin’s kind of, you know, revanchist tendencies here?

Gorenburg: It’s, you know, it’s really hard to tell what, how things, you know, what any of these next generation people really think. And, you know, one movie that I think is well worth watching, not just for the history, but also for just when you start thinking about how a bunch of psychopaths interact with the Supreme Leader’s, is the “Death of Stalin.” And you see that kind of cow-towing, right? But also, what the actual history of that time tells us is that the survivors, the people who stuck around in positions of power became very good at hiding their true beliefs while Stalin was around. And so, we don’t really know what a lot of these people think, because the ones that had clear positions that were contrary to what Putin wants have been sidelined.

Watson: What are the long-game considerations that maybe the U.S. officials in the policy community may not have been thinking about as much as perhaps they ought to? 

Gorenburg: Well, I think we’re heading into clearly a time of NATO-Russia confrontation. A lot will depend on how this goes. If this goes well and easily for Putin, then I think the appetite may increase. If it becomes complicated and painful, then there’ll be a time of reckoning, recalculation, or even just a time of trying to assimilate what’s been gained. But if it does go well, then I worry a bit about Moldova, honestly.

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