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It’s almost still as painful with Ukraine.
Schwartz’s dragon comes to mind. Timothy hasn’t lived in Russia. Neither has off-ramp Fiona, who was merely indoctrinated at Moscow’s Maurice Thorez Institute for Foreign Languages. By the way, Fiona is now fellowshipping in Berlin, researching “the role deindustrialization has played in fueling populist politics in the 2000s.”
Practicing philosopher Vladimir Pastukhov might help Timothy and Fiona read Russia better. Kirill Rogov is another good source, as are several self-exiled geographers, philosophers and historians who appear frequently on YouTube (Oreshkin, Zubov, Aleksashenko, Yakovenko, Inozemtsev et al).
Ibrahim and Leonid, who are still in Russia, have produced more than 60 podcasts about key phases of Russia’s history post-1917, if anyone wants to brush up on the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks). Policymakers and narrative shapers might want to avoid popular self-exiled Russian conspiricists (Latynina, Belkovsky, Venediktov, Feigin, et al) who vlog daily about about the bloodbath, dabbling in conspiricism.
Recent additions to “our tortured reading” include Russia’s War on Everyone. And what it means for you (Giles), Putin’s Wars. From Chechnya to Ukraine (Galeotti), Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine (Matthews), , Putin’s War on Ukraine: Russia’s campaign for global counter-revolution (Ramani), Invasion: The inside story of Russia's bloody war and Ukraine's fight for survival (Harding), The Fight of Our Lives: My time with Zelenskyy, Ukraine's battle for democracy, and what it means for the world (Mendel), The War Came to Us: Life and death in Ukraine (Miller) and so on and so forth. The last two books are self-aggrandizing memoirs.
I have not read any of these books, but some of the reviews have interesting. Take, for example, Galeotti’s take on Miller’s autohagiography appearing in The Guardian last week.
When it comes to Right Sector, Galeotti is obviously clueless. We are left to imagine what Miller invented, misunderstood or miswrote, but I’m not very interested, so I won’t.
Western policymakers specializing in eastern Europe, especially the older ones, are, by and large, a Russophillic bunch. Many of them studied Russian language and culture during Soviet times. They know the cyrillic alphabet, but the level of their proficiency in communicating complete thoughts orally in Russian is, er, limited.