Sign up for GZERO Media's global politics newsletter

{{ subpage.title }}

Cuban Missile Crisis turns 60 | GZERO Media

Cuban Missile Crisis turns 60

Sixty years ago, the world got as close it's ever been to nuclear war.

For 13 days, the US and the USSR played a dangerous cat-and-mouse game over Soviet nuclear missiles parked in Cuba. The Cold War nearly got hot.

In the end, a shared sense of humanity allowed a diplomatic solution. The world breathed a sigh of relief.

Read Now Show less
Annie Gugliotta

Another nuclear showdown?

Sixty years ago on Friday, Maj. Richard Heyser took hundreds of photos of suspicious installations in the Cuban countryside from a US spy plane. Close inspection of the photos back in Washington revealed that the Soviet government, then led by Nikita Khrushchev, had secretly installed missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads over 90 miles of ocean to hit targets across much of the United States. You can hear audio recordings of the initial White House discussion of this threat here.

Over the following days, the White House and Kremlin found themselves looking for ways to avoid nuclear war. The crisis was resolved when a deal was reached that pulled the Soviet missiles from Cuba and later withdrew US missiles from Turkey.

Today, a Kremlin leader has created a new crisis. A Russian invasion has produced a military stalemate in the south and east of Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin has warned that nuclear weapons remain an option for Russia if he believes his country’s national security is threatened. Other Russian officials and allies have issued more explicit threats. President Joe Biden has invoked “the prospect of Armageddon” and spoken about lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis that might help avert catastrophe today.

Read Now Show less
Mikhail Gorbachev Outlived His Legacy | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Mikhail Gorbachev outlived his legacy

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Mikhail Gorbachev, the final general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union has died at 91. He's an extraordinary and truly world changing leader, ultimately, and tragically a failed one as well. Arguably, Gorbachev was the leader that made the greatest impact on my professional life. My first trip outside the United States was to the former Soviet Union back in 1986. Gorbachev had just gotten into power the year before, and actually it wasn't at all clear when I went there that he was going to be this great reformer. In his early days, he was focused on anti-alcohol campaign, anti-corruption campaign, sort of trying to improve Soviet society, but also working to concentrate, more power in the hands of the politburo, where there was a serious power struggle going on. In fact, the early days you could argue that Gorbachev and Xi Jinping actually had a lot in common, but that's really where the comparisons end.

Read Now Show less
Putin Miscalculated on Ukraine | Misled By Post-Cold War Worldview, Says Ivan Krastev | GZERO World

Putin miscalculated on Ukraine, misled by post-Cold War worldview, says Ivan Krastev

For political scientist Ivan Krastev, Vladimir Putin miscalculated in Ukraine — but in a much deeper way than how the invasion is playing out so far.

Why? Krastev offers three explanations in an interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

First, Putin never accepted that the Soviet Union collapsed because communism did.

Read Now Show less

Podcast: Examining Putin: his logic, mistakes, and hope for Ukraine

Listen: Not much has gone right for Vladimir Putin since Russia's invasion of Ukraine began. Ian Bremmer speaks to political scientist and author Ivan Krastev, who believes Putin has the autocrat's curse: his back is against the wall because he can't be perceived as weak. Krastev unpacks many of Putin's problems, including his expectations about the "special operation" and how badly he misread Ukrainians. Why did Putin miscalculate so deeply? Krastev offers three explanations: Putin never accepted that the Soviet Union collapsed because communism did; he thought the West was in such decline that he'd get away with the invasion; and a sense that time is running out, because the 70-year-old Putin wants to fix all of Russia's problems in his lifetime.

Read Now Show less
Ethnic Russians in Ukraine: A Look Back | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Ethnic Russians in Ukraine: A look back

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, kicking off another week.

It's been a month now of a Russian invasion into Ukraine. Things certainly not getting any better on the ground. I could give an update of all of it, but rather than doing that, I wanted to go back to how I started my career as a political scientist, because believe it or not, it was on this issue.

I started my PhD work back in 1989. And as you can imagine, the most interesting thing in the world was that the Wall came down and the Soviet empire was collapsing, and the nationalities of the former Soviet Union were starting to explode. It looked like the whole place was going to come apart. And so that's of course what I did my research on.

Read Now Show less

A sign with a hammer and sickle stands in Tiraspol, capital of Transnistria.

Hannah Wagner/dpa

WhAt iS a “TrANsnisTriA”?

As the war in Ukraine rages on, there’s a certain Russian-backed separatist enclave that may soon be in the headlines, and it’s not the Donbas.

Read Now Show less
Annie Gugliotta

What We're Watching: World War Z, US-Venezuela thaw

What’s Z deal with that Russian symbol?

Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak was widely criticized for taking to the podium of a World Cup event over the weekend with the letter “Z” taped to his leotard. Why? Well, since Putin ordered his armies into Ukraine two weeks ago, the Roman letter Z — often rendered in a paintbrush style — has become a symbol of support for the invasion and for Putin’s regime. In Russia, it’s been slapped on cars, drawn on lapels, and even emblazoned on the sweatshirts of the guys in this super chill “non-fascist” video in support of the war. Where does the Z come from? The clearest answer is that it’s the symbol the Russian military has slapped onto its trucks and tanks in Ukraine to distinguish them from the same Soviet-era hardware that the Ukrainians also have. The Russian Ministry of Defense’s Instagram account has all kinds of uses for the Z now: Za Pobedu! (For Victory!), DenaZification! DemilitariZation! Still, why not use a Cyrillic letter? Then again, after all the sanctions and boycotts, the Roman letter Z might soon be the only Western thing left in Russia.

US meets with Venezuela’s Maduro

With fears that the war in Ukraine could push global energy prices even higher, Washington has brought an olive branch to an unlikely shore. US officials recently met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to discuss conditions for repealing the crippling US sanctions in place against the South American oil producer. Washington, which broke off relations in 2019 over Maduro’s rigged elections and crackdowns on opposition protests, is reportedly demanding free and fair presidential elections and extensive reforms to the Venezuelan oil sector. Maduro, for his part, wants an end to US sanctions on Venezuelan oil and to be readmitted to the SWIFT global financial platform (see our explainer on SWIFT here.) Venezuela is, of course, a close ally and partner of Russia. With Moscow itself now under crushing economic and financial sanctions, the US is surely gauging whether there’s room to drive a wedge between Caracas and Moscow.

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

Latest