The short period of time stretching from the dramatic Constitutional amendments of January 2020, to the war launched by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine in February, 2022, marks a sharp turning point in post-Soviet Russian history. The author explains how Russia got to that point of war. Although Putin, termed ‘eternal’ because of amendments that allow him to run for two more terms as president, is everywhere in it, the book is a study of Russia writ large. It features the political uproar over the Navalny phenomenon, the ravages of the pandemic, manifestations of climate change, and intensifying confrontations between Russia on one side, Ukraine, NATO and the US on the other. The book provides a who, what, where and when of the short but volatile period prior to the outbreak of war, and offers a tentative why it happened. Discussed, too, are the highs and lows of Putin’s popularity; the effectiveness, or not, of economic sanctions, and Moscow’s ‘pivot to the east’. Whereas Putin is a more obvious villain in the unhappy tale, the author makes it clear that Ukrainian and Western leaders are by no means blameless for this state of affairs.
Joseph Laurence (Larry) Black is Professor Emeritus, and was re-designated Distinguished Research Professor by Carleton in 2017.
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Transliteration, Spelling, Punctuation and Sources
Note on Sources
Chapter 1. Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation Presidency
Chapter 2. Navalny and the Political Cockpit
Chapter 3. Matter over Mind? Media, Human Rights, Pandemic & Climate Change
Chapter 4. The Economy. The Sanctions Saga.
Chapter 5. The International Arena
Chapter 6. New Cold War. Russia, the US and China
Chapter 7. War & Peace. Preparing for a Shooting War
Chapter 8. Russia in Wartime. Eternal Confrontation?
Chapter 9. Ripple Effects
Conclusion: Closing remarks, forecasts — and guesses
Appendix 1: List of Countries ‘Unfriendly’ to Russia from 5 March 2022
Appendix 2: Further Reading
About the Author
Russia's attack on Ukraine in 2022 raised interest in Putinism and Russia as a regional threat. Black places the invasion of Ukraine and the hardening and broadening of Western sanctions against Russia in a narrative that ties them to Vladimir Putin's intent to remain in power indefinitely, his attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and even the COVID-19 pandemic…. the book is a readable reminder of Russia's military maneuvering on the eve of the war and the blow-by-blow process of Putin's repression of the media and of opposition to the war—including the Kafkaesque outlawing of references to the war as war. Black traces Putin's repression of the media through allegations that it is supposedly extremist, fake news fueled by foreign agents…. A distinctive feature of the book is Black's prolific use of Russian sources—not only public media and government documents but also blogs and other social media. He also includes polling data relevant to virtually every move Putin has made domestically and internationally. This is a useful introduction to recent events in Russia and Ukraine. Recommended. General readers and undergraduates.
An exceptionally well-informed, balanced and detailed analysis of a critical turning point in Russian politics and international relations between 2020 and 2022. This perceptive and convincing study challenges stereotypes and misconceptions, and helps explain the origins and dynamics of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. It is an essential read that provides an understanding how the Global North once again stumbled into war.
At a time when the Russia-Ukraine war dominates news headlines, understanding Russia has never been more important. In this thorough and comprehensive read, Black enables readers to do so through an outline of political and economic developments in Russia in the two years prior to the invasion of Ukraine, and in the immediate aftermath. Black casts an expert gaze on some of the most important events of our era.
A fascinating analysis of how Russian leaders and citizens understand their place in the world. It is critical reading for those who wish to understand the motivations that propelled Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.