All the Russias' Blog

A space for news and opinion, sponsored by The Jordan Center

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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