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Nina L. Khrushcheva

Nina L. Khrushcheva

Nina L. Khrushcheva is a Professor of International Affairs and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. Khrushcheva received a degree from Moscow State University with a major in Russian in 1987 and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University in 1998.

Articles by Nina L. Khrushcheva

An Update on the Cuban Missile Crisis

June 10, 2021

A new book shows that the nuclear standoff in 1962 happened because, “operating under mutual distrust,” the Americans and Soviets “simply misread each other.” While Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden claim to seek a “stable and predictable” relationship, the risk of a devastating miscalculation is no less salient today.

MOSCOW – As US President Joe Biden prepares to meet with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the stakes might not seem all that high. With bilateral relations at a post-Cold War low, and the United States more concerned about China than Russia, it is hard to imagine the relationship deteriorating further. And yet, as the historian Serhii Plokhy of Harvard University reminds us in his new book, Nuclear

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Prosecute the Populists?

May 21, 2021

As legal investigations of current and former populist leaders get underway, it is easy to succumb to schadenfreude. But the assumption that Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and Sebastian Kurz are finally getting their comeuppance is premature.

MOSCOW – Until the cease-fire, the world’s attention was trained on Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza, which may have suited Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is facing trial on corruption charges. And Netanyahu is hardly the only populist leader in legal peril. From Austria to the United Kingdom to the United States, similar investigations are underway. Have democracies finally found the means, and the willingness, to vanquish their domestic enemies?

The Big Lie and Its

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Stalin’s War and Peace

May 7, 2021

In dealing with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the West has both underestimated and overestimated the country, often simultaneously. An examination of Soviet history – from World War II through the Nuremberg Trials – shows just how dangerous such miscalculations can be.

Sean McMeekin, Stalin’s War: A New History of World War II, Allen Lane, London; Basic Books, New York, 2021.Jonathan Haslam, The Spectre of War: International Communism and the Origins of World War II, Princeton University Press, 2021.Norman M. Naimark, Stalin and the Fate of Europe: The Postwar Struggle for Sovereignty, Harvard University Press, 2019.Francine Hirsch, Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II,

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G.I. Joe Trotsky

April 22, 2021

As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building.

NEW YORK – Leon Trotsky may not claim a mass following nowadays, but the revolutionary tactics that he pioneered remain very much in use, and not only by communists or in today’s Russia, where they are called “political technology.” One such tactic, known as “entryism” – when members of an extremist group join, subvert, and ultimately take over a more powerful organization, which they then use as a political weapon – has gained adherents among far-right groups

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Can Navalny Take Down Putin?

February 12, 2021

Unlike the protests that roiled Russia in 2011-12 in response to Vladimir Putin’s third presidency, today’s protest movement has a charismatic and sympathetic leader. But Putin has spent the last decade consolidating a police state, and he is prepared to use every available tool to retain power.

MOSCOW – There are arguably two moments in the last century when a wrecking ball was taken to Russia’s political regime. In 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution toppled the country’s teetering monarchy. And, in 1991, an abortive coup by Marxist-Leninist hardliners against the reformist Mikhail Gorbachev accelerated the tottering Soviet Union’s collapse. Does the wave of protests that have swept Russia in recent weeks herald another

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Who Profits from the Assault on American Democracy?

January 13, 2021

While US President Donald Trump intentionally and directly incited the recent attack on the Capitol, he does not bear sole responsibility. Every one of his enablers is guilty – including the bankers and politicians who have managed to remain largely in the shadows.

WASHINGTON, DC – Since January 6, when a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol, dozens of rioters have been charged with crimes. Trump, who incited the insurrection, has now been booted from all major social-media platforms, and faces the prospect of another impeachment trial, while many Republican senators and representatives have faced harsh criticism for backing Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud.

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Ten Hours that Shook America

January 7, 2021

The storming of the US Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters in a last-ditch effort to overturn the result of the 2020 election was as predictable as it was shocking. Four years of Republican complicity in the face of Trump’s erosion of US democracy have brought the country to its most fraught moment since the Civil War.

MOSCOW – The January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol lacked the gravitas of the storming of the Winter Palace, that much is certain. Incited by President Donald Trump at a nearby rally, where he encouraged his supporters to march on the US Capitol, the mob did succeed in interrupting a joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote in favor of President-elect Joe Biden. But lawmakers

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Ivanka the Inevitable?

December 24, 2020

After four years as a "senior adviser" in her father’s presidential administration, Ivanka Trump seems to be preparing for a political career of her own. If she wins national office, she will use her power just as her father has: for the Trumps.

NEW YORK – In her autobiography, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, Donald Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka, described an incident involving her father and his second wife, Marla Maples. The family was supposed to take their private plane to Florida, but Maples was late. Just as they were about to take off, a mere five minutes behind schedule, Ivanka saw a car pull onto the tarmac. Maples rushed out. But when Ivanka pointed this out, her father refused to have the pilot

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Donald Trump, Made in America

November 6, 2020

Regardless of the final outcome, the 2020 US presidential election has confirmed that nearly half the electorate still prefers a politics of division and hatred to one of decency and unity. That is not Russia’s fault – and never was.

MOSCOW – The 2020 US presidential election challenges – indeed, it should lay to rest – the popular notion that US President Donald Trump is a lackey of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even if Trump loses, his performance – receiving millions more votes than he did in 2016 – suggests that it is he who is the master of propaganda, and that Putin is the one who should be taking notes. In fact, Trump’s campaign of lies could well become the new template for how failing democracies (and

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Has Putin Lost His Mojo?

October 28, 2020

For most of the last decade, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been far less interested in solving domestic problems than in establishing Russia as an important, even fearsome, player on the world stage. But today, though there may be residual enthusiasm left for meddling in the US presidential election, sparring with the EU over issues large and small seems less exciting.

MOSCOW – What a difference a year makes. In the fall of 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin seemed to be riding high. Upheaval in the West – including Donald Trump’s presidency, the Brexit drama, and European feuds over issues ranging from migration to energy – had enabled him to nurture a reputation as a steady, assertive hand in global

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The Buck Stops with Putin

September 17, 2020

Whether or not Russian President Vladimir Putin directly ordered the poisoning of Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny, he created the system that allowed it to happen – one that is ineffective, unaccountable, and prone to destabilization by rogue actors. The West should hold him responsible.

MOSCOW – German, French, and Swedish medical experts agree: Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s highest-profile domestic critic and the founder of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok. Navalny has survived. Russia’s relationship with Germany may not – and that would not necessarily be a bad outcome.

The Roots of American Misery

PS OnPoint

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Belarus Is Putin’s to Lose

August 25, 2020

Each new day of protests works against Russia’s long-term interests in Belarus, and fuels distrust and hostility toward the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin should openly express solidarity with Belarusian society instead of cautiously supporting President Alexander Lukashenko.

MINSK/MOSCOW – Huge protests have swept Belarus since Aleksandr Lukashenko fraudulently claimed to have won 80% of the vote in the August 9 presidential election. The country’s future may now hinge on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Belarus’s Revolution of Dignity

PS OnPoint

Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

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Trump and Putin by the Book

July 14, 2020

Although life is complicated under the authoritarian misrule of US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the same cannot be said of either man’s character. Both figures were long prefigured in classic works of political satire in both countries.

MOSCOW – We are increasingly ruled not by people but by characters. Donald Trump’s reality-show presidency or Vladimir Putin’s cartoon authoritarianism recalls Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film, The Great Dictator. Yet in both Russia and the United States – polar opposites that have become near-mirror images – the Chaplinesque dictators’ divisive, populist messages could be considered anything but comical.

Toward a New Fiscal

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The Long March of “General” William Barr

June 23, 2020

US Attorney General William Barr is frequently criticized for corrupting his office to protect President Donald Trump. But something more sinister than personal fealty is at work, because Barr is a true believer in a theory of presidential power that, if implemented, would destroy America’s constitutional order.

NEW YORK – The death of George Floyd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man, at the hands – or, more accurately, the knee – of a police officer in Minneapolis ignited massive protests across the United States against systemic racism and police brutality. It also spurred a growing number of people outside the US to confront the legacies of racism and inequality in their own countries. Donald Trump’s

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Russian Derangement Syndrome

May 28, 2020

Although worries about Russian disinformation are not unfounded, they have steadily grown into an unhealthy obsession in the United States and other Western democracies. When absolutely everything is blamed on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has little reason not to continue misbehaving.

EASTERN SHORE, MARYLAND – On May 21, the US Department of State announced a $250,000 grant for “Exposing Russian Health Disinformation,” to which the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, immediately responded that America had shown its “true intentions… during a difficult global pandemic.” Normally, I would not side with the Kremlin. But I cannot help wondering whether the Russophobia found in some segments of America’s

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The Fog of COVID-19 War Propaganda

April 27, 2020

The COVID-19 virus is a large-scale threat demanding extraordinary action. But it is not Nazi Germany, and “beating” another country is not the same as managing the outbreak. We should be wary of leaders who suggest otherwise.

NEW YORK – “We are at war,” declares French President Emmanuel Macron. US President Donald Trump promises “the end of our historic battle with the invisible enemy.” We must brace for our “Pearl Harbor moment,” warns US surgeon general Jerome Adams.

What the Stock Market Is Really Saying

PS OnPoint

Xinhua/Michael Nagle via Getty Images

The EU Should Issue

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Comrade Trump

February 13, 2020

In 1922, Vladimir Lenin wrote that “Stalin concentrated in his hands enormous power, which he won’t be able to use responsibly,” owing to his rudeness, intolerance, and capriciousness – qualities that Donald Trump has in spades. His acquittal by the Senate was a dark day for American democracy, but his reelection could be lights out.

NEW YORK – “In just three short years,” US President Donald Trump declared in his recent State of the Union (SOTU) address, “we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.” This baseless pronouncement – more propaganda than reality – recalled Joseph Stalin’s 1935 proclamation that “Life has improved, comrades; life has become more

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The Story in History

January 10, 2020

Svetlana Alexievich won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for her documentary narratives of life in the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia. An author who has committed her life to channeling the voices of others now assumes the role of speaker in this wide-ranging conversation with Nina L. Khrushcheva.

KYIV – In 2015, the oral historian Svetlana Alexievich was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her “documentary novels” showcasing life in Russia and in the Soviet Union before its collapse. Through multi-voice narratives distilled from hundreds of conversations, Alexievich composes a symphony of meaning from what would otherwise be a cacophony of memories. Her work captures not only the emotions of its subjects, but also

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Disinfo Wars

January 7, 2020

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The Assassin’s False Creed

January 5, 2020

Assassinations are, in almost every case, desperate gambles, usually carried out not by statesmen but by committed ideologues. US President Donald Trump may be neither, but there is no reason to believe that the targeted killing of Qassem Suleimani will be more than an empty – if ultimately very costly – gesture.

MOSCOW – For an armchair warrior like US President Donald Trump, who received five deferments from serving in Vietnam, assassinations must look like a foreign-policy silver bullet. You take out your enemy’s leadership with a drone strike or a rifle shot and, presto, your problems are solved. In fact, there is no historical basis for believing that assassinations solve anything. But there are plenty of precedents that

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Putin’s Pipelines to Power

December 31, 2019

Whereas 61% of Russians rate Vladimir Putin’s performance positively, fewer than 43% of Americans approve of Donald Trump. In fact, the same incoherent US policies that have contributed to Trump’s unpopularity have fueled Putin’s popularity, by handing him a series of tactical victories.

MOSCOW – Over the last year, predictions of serious struggles for Russian President Vladimir Putin – or even his political demise – have been increasingly frequent. A recent article in The Economist, “An awful week for Vladimir Putin,” is just one example. But it is Putin biographer and New York Times correspondent Steven Lee Myers whose assessment rings most true: “Putin,” Myers has repeatedly said to me, “always wins.”
How

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Putin Means Money

November 22, 2019

While Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to be able to tout Russian achievements in science and innovation, he also wants to enrich himself as much as possible. And, as the security forces’ recent raid on the Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow showed, if he has to choose, money comes first.

MOSCOW – In her 2014 book Putin’s Kleptocracy, the late Karen Dawisha argued that the key to understanding Vladimir Putin’s Russia is money. While Putin was selling stories to the public about restoring Russia’s global influence, she explained, he and a coterie of trusted cronies were amassing massive amounts of personal wealth. More than an authoritarian, nationalist, or revanchist, Putin, in her view, should be understood

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The Silence of the Republican Lambs

October 28, 2019

Even as Donald Trump’s presidency fast approaches the abyss, leading members of the Republican Party have stayed largely silent. As the Soviet dissident poet Alexander Galich wrote in the 1960s, “Keep silent, you will be on top.”

NEW YORK – In the 1960s, the dissident poet Alexander Galich wrote about the mute complicity of Soviet apparatchiks in Joseph Stalin’s crimes, notably the Great Purges in which millions were detained or died in the Gulag. “Those who were silent became the bosses, because silence is gold,” Galich wrote. “Keep silent, you will be on top.”
The Silence of the Republican Lambs

Alex Wong/Getty Images

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Boris the Bolshevik

September 1, 2019

By moving to suspend the UK Parliament for five weeks as the Brexit deadline looms, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has severely – and perhaps permanently – damaged the rule of law. A man who fancies himself as leading in the Churchillian tradition is acting more like Europe’s fascist leaders did in the 1930s.

MOSCOW – Most people think of revolutions as sudden earthquakes or volcanic eruptions that come without warning and sweep away an entire political system. But historians, political scientists, and even the odd politician know that the reality is very different: revolutions happen when systems hollow themselves out, or simply rot from within. Revolutionaries can then brush aside established norms of

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When Leninists Overreach

August 14, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping have for years flexed their foreign-policy muscles and consolidated power at home. But Russia and China now appear increasingly isolated on the world stage, and the question now is whether they have finally gone – or soon will go – too far.

MOSCOW – Ongoing street protests in Hong Kong and Moscow have no doubt spooked the authoritarian duo of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Moscow protests, the largest in many years, must be keeping Putin up at night, or they wouldn’t be dispersed with such unabated brutality. Yet rather than hold a dialogue with the people, Putin has been demonstrating that he is in

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Women on Top in the World’s Democracies

July 24, 2019

In today’s world, men continue to hold disproportionate power, which they often use in ways that prevent women from gaining more. But, judging by the fast-growing number of women on the political stage – and given that they include fascists, liberals, greens, and socialists – the days of male supremacy are numbered.

MOSCOW – US President Donald Trump’s recent declaration that four Democratic congresswomen of color – Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib – should “go back” to their countries was another reminder of his blatant racism and sexism. (Three of them were born in the United States, and the fourth became a US citizen as a teenager.) But it also highlighted the

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Should the Russians Hug the Chinese?

June 10, 2019

At a time when US President Donald Trump is waging a trade war against China, Chinese President Xi Jinping has found a new “best friend” in his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. But is this new friendship really in Russia’s best interest?

MOSCOW – Chinese President Xi Jinping was the toast of Russia last week. He smiled at the Moscow Zoo as Russian President Vladimir Putin admired the pandas Xi had brought (a standard Chinese gift to countries it courts). In St. Petersburg, he toured the Aurora, the warship that fired the shot marking the start of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and took an evening boat cruise with Putin. At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, he quoted Fyodor Dostoevsky.

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Ukraine’s New President Joins the Resistance

May 23, 2019

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had not even been sworn in yet when Donald Trump’s consigliere, Rudolph Giuliani, initiated an attempt to lure him into pursuing a spurious investigation into Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s son. Fortunately, even the inexperienced Zelensky knew it was a booby trap.

NEW YORK – Beset with its own very large problems, the last thing Ukraine needs is to be sucked, yet again, into US President Donald Trump’s scandals. Fortunately, for all his deficiencies, Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, seems to understand this.
Europe’s Only Decision

Norbert Kamil Kowaczek/EyeEm/Getty Images

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Ukraine Sends in the Clown

April 30, 2019

Most Ukrainian voters arguably know that the comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only claim to fame up to now was playing a teacher-turned-president in a popular TV series, will not be the real-life president of their dreams. So why did nearly three-quarters of them back him?

KYIV – In the 2000s, The West Wing was everybody’s favorite television show about an aspirational US administration – one that fought terrorism without waging war on an entire region or religion, refused to trample on the rule of law, and generally made decisions that were in the country’s best interest. Many wished the show’s calm and collected fictional president, played by Martin Sheen, could replace America’s cowboy president, George W. Bush,

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The Trumping of Ukraine

March 7, 2019

The presence of a television comedian-turned-political interloper in Ukraine’s presidential race has eerie parallels to Donald Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 US election. The main difference is that a country like the United States can probably survive its choice, whereas Ukraine cannot.

NEW YORK – If life imitates art, Nikolai Gogol, who had a keen grasp of the delusional and demented, could have scripted many of the key political events of recent years. Consider a story that begins with a woman announcing her presidential candidacy and quickly becoming – despite her flaws – the favorite to win. But out of nowhere appears another candidate: a television star with no qualifications for public office.

Jose

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