One of the objectives that @DrRadchenko and I wanted to achieve in our @ForeignAffairs piece (link below) is to debunk some of the prevailing myths about Russia. Here are the most important ones: 🧵…
Myth #1: Once Putin leaves power/dies, Russia will abandon its anti-Western belligerent policies and return to the bosom of the liberal Western order

Reality: Putin is most likely to be replaced by another hardliner who will continue or even accelerate his aggressive policies
Myth #2: It's only a matter of time before Russia turns into a Jeffersonian democracy with the rule of law, free press, etc

Reality: Democracy has become a dirty word in Russia over the last 3 decades. Even long after Putin is gone, the Russian public is unlikely to desire it
Myth #3: Russia and US will one day join forces to form an anti-China alliance (Reverse Kissinger model)

Reality: Russia, with historical visions of its own grandeur, has no interest in joining any alliance—much less a Western one. Nor is it in its interests to antagonize China
Myth #4: The only options for Russia are to become a junior partner to China or US

Reality: Russia's desired state is a multipolar world, where it is one of the poles. With its power diminishing, it is unlikely to get that. But it can still project power by pursing non-alignment
Myth #5: It is possible to destroy or dismantle Russia (or that it would be in our interests to do so)

Reality: As George Kennan famously once said "The Soviet Union will not last, but Russia will"
It is a country of 140m people that is not going to disappear or disintegrate
Myth #6: Putin will get replaced in a popular uprising

Reality: Putin's hold on power is the strongest it's been in 23 years, since becoming President. If he gets replaced, it will be due to a palace coup orchestrated by people who think he is not aggressive enough
Myth #7: We can enact a regime change in Moscow

Reality: It's a folly to think that we are even capable of such action. Not to mention that US track record of regime change over the last half century in countries considerably weaker than Russia is not stellar, to say the least
We need a long-term strategy for Russia that takes into account these realities and focuses on pursuit of achievable goals, not hopeless dreams. A non-aligned Russia, equidistant from America and China, is a possible outcome that would benefit US *and* Russia


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More from @DAlperovitch

Aug 24
"Despite the flaws that would emerge in Russia’s war planning, the outcome of the battle for Kyiv was far from predetermined"…
"A senior U.S. defense official said Washington knew more about Russia’s plan to invade than about Ukraine’s plan for defense, fueling doubts about how Kyiv would fare"
"U.S. officials suspected that the Ukrainian military was wary of sharing war plans while its political leadership was downplaying the likelihood of war, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter."
Read 13 tweets
Jul 14
I am very proud of this inaugural report from Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB) on the #Log4j incident. Grateful for the leadership of our Board Chair @DHS_Policy and Deputy Chair @argvee. Here are the most important highlights from my perspective 🧵
1. CSRB has found NO EVIDENCE of any malicious exploitation of vulnerability prior to the December 9th public disclosure of the vulnerability. This is important since there was speculation about whether China or any other country may have had early knowledge and exploited the bug
Public reporting prior to our investigation had indicated the opposite, so it was important for us to try to get to the bottom of this issue
Read 14 tweets
Jul 3
Time to talk about realistic ways to lift the Black Sea blockade which, as I've discussed on many occasions, remains the most important strategic issue for Ukraine in this war (since their victory in the Battle of Kyiv in March) 🧵
With the blockade in place, Ukraine's export-driven economy simply can't survive without billions of dollars of continuous monthly support from the West
And millions of jobs in Ukraine are dependent on the agricultural, extraction and industrial sectors that can't survive without the reopening of at least the Odesa ports (Mariupol and Kherson would obviously be very helpful too, if they can someday be recaptured)
Read 28 tweets
Jul 2
Thoughts on Russian power...

We certainly went quick from 'Russia is destroying our democracy' to 'Russia is not a great power and is irrelevant on the world stage'. Both are dramatic overstatements of reality... 🧵
Yes, Russia is nowhere close in its ability to project power globally as US or China. That's obvious. It is only the 11th largest economy in the world and highly dependent on resource extraction (even more so now after latest sanctions)
Yes, its performance in Ukraine has been atrocious - both in terms of planning the invasion, logistics, troop training and performance, etc. Yet, it still has occupied over 20% of the country even with Ukraine consuming large quantities of Western military aid and intelligence
Read 9 tweets
Jun 20
Two months ago I said that the fight for the Donbas would have little bearing on the outcome of the war

Now as that fight moves into its attritional phase, Putin's evolving strategy is becoming quite clear. He believes time is on his side. And he may be right 🧵
Having failed at his original (and wildly unrealistic) plan of replacing the Zelensky government in 3 days and not having the forces to go back for major new offensives, Putin's best bet for achieving strategic success is now at the negotiation table
But given that the Ukrainians have (quite understandably) little interest in compromising with Russia, Putin knows he needs to increase his leverage before restarting the talks

And his best option for that is to prolong the war at least until winter
Read 19 tweets
May 21
Interesting piece on how it wasn’t the NATO expansions of the 90s but US-led action against Iraq and in the Balkans that eventually drove US-Russia relationship off the cliff

But here is what I think the author is missing… 🧵
Ultimately it wasn’t just the outrage of “not being consulted” that infuriated the Russians
It was - in their view - the US-driven rebalancing of the Cold War alliance system that they saw as an attempt to drive traditionally Soviet-affiliated or non-aligned states into the US sphere of influence (sometimes through regime change)
Read 17 tweets

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