This account of how Putin’s new Russia rose from the ruins of the Soviet Union is judicious, humane and highly entertaining
Everyone’s talking about Russia again, troll farms, sanctions, money laundering, and all the rest of it. In a way, whatever the topic of the day, we’re just trying to answer one simple question, which is: WTF? There has been a wide acceptance among officials in both Europe and North America that we have collectively allowed our focus to slip since the end of the cold war. Our governments’ lack of interest has led us to misunderstand Russia’s development, misinterpret its economy, and misjudge its leaders. The results of these errors are all around us, most notably in the question of whether Putin was able to hijack the American ship of state, and hand the tiller to a popinjay.
Many people are to blame for this slipped focus, but one person who is not is Shaun Walker. As Moscow correspondent for the Guardian and Observer and, before that, the Independent, he has consistently been a thoughtful, sensitive, probing and resourceful chronicler. It is customary for Moscow correspondents to say how much they love Russia, but Walker writes as if he actually does, which gives his accounts of the misery suffered by much of the country still greater force.
Ukraine’s inexperienced volunteer battalions fought back, and before long there really were innocent civilians dying