What Trump and Putin want from their historic summit

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As his 1972 summit with Mao Zedong approached, President Nixon prepped by considering three simple questions: What did China want? What did the United States want? What did they both want? With a Trump-Putin summit now scheduled for Monday, we invited experts on U.S.-Russian relations to engage in Nixon’s exercise, hoping to identify some common interests between two geopolitical heavyweights. What follows are their lightly edited answers.

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Will it be ‘happy talk’ — or will Trump and Putin focus on arms control and other critical issues?

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With the U.S.-Russia summit approaching, I reached out to former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and current Stanford University political science professor Michael McFaul. McFaul, who recently published “From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia,” a memoir of his time in Moscow, was kind enough to provide his thoughts on the upcoming meeting between the U.S. and Russian presidents. What follows is a lightly edited version of our discussion. 

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Summer Reading Series: Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “Sentimental Tales,” Part III

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“Why does man exist? Is there a purpose to man’s life—and if there isn’t, then is life itself not, generally speaking, in part senseless?” Of course, some assistant or full professor on the state’s gravy train would reply, with unpleasant ease, that man exists in order to further culture and the happiness of the universe. But that’s vague and unclear, and, for the common man, even disgusting.

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Who is to blame for US-Russia tensions?

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Call it a new cold war or a “hot peace,” US-Russia relations are terrible, yet within recent memory the two countries still cooperated on a range of issues. To answer which side is to blame for current tensions, Stephen Cohen debated Michael McFaul at Columbia University.

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The Opposite of Pragmatism: Nazarbayev’s Astana 20 Years Later

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Under Nursultan Nazarbayev’s leadership, Astana celebrates its twentieth year as Kazakhstan’s capital. Festivities for Astana Day on July 6 will attract hundreds of thousands of people to the capital. Elaborate firework displays will glitter in the skies. Pragmatism will be forgotten, and Astana will have become a carefully constructed rallying point of modern Kazakh identity.

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Play Based on Venedikt Erofeev’s “Moskva-Petushki” Debuts at the East Village Playhouse

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Like Erofeev’s Venya, our own contemporaries seem to suffer from strong disillusionment with authority — an unsurprising outcome in the face of the degradation of discourse, institutions, and stable employment. Corrupt, populist politicians and a corporatized intellectual and artistic elite offer us nothing but mediocrity and moral cowardice. Faced with this void, many people turn to dangerous substitutes, as evidenced by the opioid crisis and the re-emergence of right-wing authoritarian movements in the States and abroad.

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Rodion Raskolnikov, Your Tweet Archive is Ready

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Two years ago, on May 1, 2016, the Twitter account @RodionTweets sent its first tweet. Since then @RodionTweets has livetweeted the events of Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment, broken into 140-character-or-less snippets, from its hero Raskolnikov’s perspective. The bulk of the novel’s events take place over the course of three intense weeks in the summer, and the bulk of Rodion Raskolnikov’s tweets similarly appeared in July 2016, but the account has continued to tweet the book’s epilogues, which spread over the course of nearly two years. Finally, on April 24, 2018, Raskolnikov’s new life began and the Twitter account went silent.

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Putin wants a shining legacy. He has to solve 3 big problems first.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has just started his new term in office and is mulling how to secure his legacy. In his fourth and likely last term, he will be working on establishing himself as the leader who returned Russia to international grandeur, stabilized the economy and increased the urban standard of living. But while Putin’s assertive foreign policy has been popular at home, it has also embroiled Russia in complex predicaments that may undo that popularity.

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May Day: A History

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The first of May has been celebrated around the world for centuries. Known as “May Day,” the holiday originated in revelries anticipating the coming of spring in the Northern Hemisphere — and with it, a sense of physical and spiritual renewal. Over the years, this festive rite of spring evolved into a celebration synonymous with workers’ rights, socialism, and the Soviet Union. But what does May Day mean today?

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Putin’s Last Term?

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Surprising no one, Vladimir Putin secured his fourth and possibly final presidential term in an election last March. A panel of scholars discussed what the next six years of Putin could mean for Russia and the world.

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