Sep 5, 2023
In the aftermath of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, there has been an overdue reckoning with the fact that many historians, foreign policy analysts, politicians, and others underestimated Vladimir Putin and overstated Russia's decline. This was despite the fact that Russia’s forever-president habitually broadcast his grievances about "the West." It is, therefore, critical to understand what drives Putin today and how he’s holding his regime together. In this episode, Catholic University historian Michael Kimmage describes what he calls Russia's "mafia state" following the death of mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. It is now apparent that Putin’s ruling clique has survived Prigozhin’s aborted challenge from June, and remains determined to fight a long war in Ukraine in the face of high casualties and economic sanctions. Also discussed in this episode is the unexpected popularity of the war inside Russia after 18 months of combat, how Russia is globalizing its war efforts to survive Western sanctions, and what it would take to get the Kremlin to the negotiating table.