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Published on: December 1, 2014
Episode 43: Putin’s Solitude and the Will-It-or-Won’t-It Warship

Good evening, listeners! This week we have a special treat for you, as we invite two guests to preview a pair of excellent essays in the upcoming print edition of the magazine.

We welcome Jeff Lightfoot, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, onto the show to discuss France’s suspension of the delivery of the first of two Mistral warships to Russia. He notes that, while the French government may still want to sell these ships for economic and strategic reasons, it is coming to an understanding that it can’t be the “skunk at the picnic” by delivering them while the West continues to ratchet up the pressure on Russia. We also learn why this specific ship, known as the Swiss army knife of France’s navy, is so important (hint: it has more to do with software than hardware).

Then, NYU law professor Stephen Holmes discusses a piece he co-wrote with Ivan Krastev, taking a look at whether Putin’s strategy has been proactive or reactive. He raises the question of whether or not Moscow’s recent actions might best be understood as an attempt to deliberately try to isolate itself from the West. He looks at the effect Western sanctions are having, both within Russia and outside it, and argues that this “does not bode well for the predictability of Russia’s behavior in the future.”

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and follow our host Richard Aldous @RJAldous and Jeff Lightfoot @jeffdlightfoot on Twitter.

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