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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
Ukraine Crisis Poses Risk to Baltic States says Former President of Estonia | GZERO World

Ukraine is fighting for all of us, says Estonia's former president Kersti Kaljulaid

Some analysts say that if Russia takes either part or all of Ukraine, its territorial ambitions are unlikely to stop there. It could pose a threat to other former Soviet Republics that have joined NATO. Kersti Kaljulaid, former president of Estonia (2016-2021), says that the risks to other Baltic states are significant if the collective response to Russia’s ongoing aggression is “weak.” Right now, Kyiv is “not fighting only for Ukraine, but for all of us,” she said. Kaljulaid believes the current crisis poses a threat to Europe’s entire security architecture. “If we are too focused on Ukraine and whether it'll be a slice or a bigger slice, I think we are missing the big picture.”

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Will Putin Invade Ukraine? | GZERO World with Ian Bremmer

Will Putin invade Ukraine?

Will Putin invade Ukraine? That's the million-dollar question. Joe Biden certainly seems to think so. But whether Vladimir Putin will actually do it, or is just playing political chess, is anyone's guess.

Putin has long griped about the collapse of the Soviet Union, which explains how he feels about Ukraine. The US and NATO accuse him of posturing, but he thinks NATO is doing the same.

In a new episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Ukraine expert Alina Polyakova says the Russian leader has put a “noose” around Ukraine with his troop build-up along the border and cyberattacks. Putin has responded to Western diplomacy with demands that are impossible to meet.

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Is Putin still Soviet? Wrong question

Thirty years ago this week, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, forced to choose between dissolving the USSR or trying to hold it together by force, decided to lower the flag and end 75 years of Communist rule. Boris Yeltsin became president of something called the Russian Federation, and the Cold War officially passed into history. Many on both sides of the old divide hoped for a clean break from a confrontational past and looked forward to a new, cooperative future.

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