Putin "doesn't understand the first thing about Ukraine."
Make what you can of the news from Ukraine: nobody’s calling it a Seinfeld crisis anymore, meaning a crisis about nothing, with a painless remedy at hand. Just what is this crisis, though, and how did it catch us by surprise? It can feel like a panic attack about everything: the shock of naked force; the aggrieved autocrat in plain sight, doing his calculated thing, almost casual in his unilateral violence. In the mirror of Great Power behavior, it could remind you awkwardly of the American war of choice on Iraq, and the war on Serbia that created Kosovo. It looks also like a lethal Cold War germ that went dormant for decades but is back to remind us of the ragged borders that delivered peace in Europe, but not a shared sense of security.
The panic building around Ukraine is now a deadly modern war in Europe. Vladimir Putin at midweek unleashed a full-scale air-and-ground assault by Russia on Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, and many other points. It’s a compound global crisis as we put this program together. Collaborating with the Quincy Institute in a radio/podcast series we’re calling In Search of Monsters, we will get to some of the history behind the battle for Ukraine and the geo-politics around it. First, a hint of the pain all through it, with the writer Masha Gessen, an eminent activist with two passports, Russian and American. At home in two countries, outspoken in both, Masha reminds you that Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine this week is a devastation to the hearts and hopes of millions.
Pulitzer-winning biographer of George Kennan.
Professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Tufts University.
Director of Studies at the Center for the National Interest.