The two main drivers of Russia’s initiation of its war in Ukraine are a deep sense of wounded national pride and deeply ingrained paranoia. The undignified collapse of the Soviet Union was a bitter humiliation for the men of Vladimir Putin’s generation. Putin expressed a view common in Russia when he said the fall of the Soviet Union “was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” Recovering the lost glory of the Soviet Union’s superpower status is a national obsession. And paranoia is deeply ingrained in Russian political culture, where conspiracies and plots are suspected around every corner.
I spent four years on Russian state television (2015-2019), appearing daily on two of Russia’s most popular political talk shows, Mesto Vstrechi (Meeting Place) and Vremya Pokazhet (Time Will Tell). I was the token American, anti-Kremlin, pro-liberal democracy, pro-Ukraine. My interlocutors were mostly members of the Duma and Federation Council, Kremlin
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