Is the geopolitical conflict between the United States and Russia not the result – as it is usually portrayed – of fundamentally different values held by the two states? Is the problem really that their geopolitical values are in fact too similar?
It is Christmas Eve and all sorts of mischief is afoot in Dikanka, a Ukrainian village made famous by Nikolai (Mykola) Gogol, the iconic 19th century writer reluctantly shared by Ukraine and Russia. As Dikanka’s cheerful denizens go caroling in the night, in one house a devil is cavorting with a local witch; in another, a sorcerer is magically sucking up dumplings.
As Russia prepares to celebrate Orthodox Christmas, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has many reasons to be pleased this holiday season. Russia, after all, has received an abundance of geopolitical gifts over the past year. But for all the bounty that Putin reaped, Ded Moroz did not deliver the New Year’s present that the Russian leader really needed – a vibrant economy.
According to a number of biographical accounts, history was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s favorite subject in school, and he appears to retain a keen interest in history right up to the present day.
A political crisis in the separatist entity of Abkhazia, which included coup rumors and Russia’s temporary detention of an opposition leader, has eased for now. But the sources of instability have not been fully addressed.
“The history of Russia is the history of a country that colonizes itself.” This phrase, first coined by the historian Sergei Solov’ev in the 1840s, gained widespread currency thanks to Vasilii Kliuchevskii’s Course of Russian History, first published in 1911 and still popular today.
The authorities in South Ossetia want to change the name of their self-declared republic in response to a historical dispute with a rival Caucasus nation. A rebranding could also, some in South Ossetia hope, hasten its incorporation into the Russia Federation.
Russia has forged an informal network of authoritarian-minded states in Eurasia dedicated to silencing dissenters living in exile. A leading expert on Eurasian affairs has dubbed this coalition as the “Repressintern.”