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A nation must think before it acts.
Dmitry Adamsky, Russian Nuclear Orthodox: Religion, Politics, and Strategy (CA: Stanford University Press, 2019).
For more on nuclear weapons and strategic stability, see Dmitry Adamsky’s Russian Nuclear Orthodoxy, which details the growth of the unique bond between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian nuclear community. Adamsky’s book is critical to understanding how the insinuation of religion into Russia’s nuclear decision-making may change Moscow’s calculus on when to go to war and how to fight wars.
Thomas C. Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966).
The collapse of the arms control regime also calls for re-engaging with Thomas Schelling’s Arms and Influence, perhaps the seminal work in nuclear strategy. Schelling argues that nuclear weapons allow a state to inflict harm on an adversary’s population without first defeating its military, and that this makes war more a process of violent bargaining than brute strength. A new look at Schelling is well worth the time for anyone interested in understanding the post-arms control world.
Mikhail Zygar, All the Kremlin’s Men: Inside the Court of Vladimir Putin (New York, NY: Public Affairs, 2016).
Understanding the inner workings of the Kremlin is never easy, but perhaps no book provides a better roadmap than Mikhail Zygar’s All the Kremlin’s Men. Zygar deconstructs the notion of Putin as potentate sitting at the top of a “power vertical”. Instead, he portrays Putin as attempting to manage an unruly court that includes oligarchs, veterans of Russia’s security services, chiefs of regional fiefdoms, and other power players.
Anne Garrels, Putin Country: A Journey into the Real Russia (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016).
For a look at the source of Putin’s popularity with ordinary Russians, Putin Country by Anne Garrels is indispensable. Over a period of twenty years, starting in the 1990s, Garrels visited the military-industrial city of Chelyabinsk, getting to know its residents and following its trajectory through from economic collapse to newfound prosperity. Her portrait of middle Russia, far from the glitzy urban centers of Moscow and St. Petersburg, is essential to understanding Putin’s connection to the country he leads.