Understanding Putin, and Russia Under His Leadership

Understanding Putin, and Russia Under His Leadership
Yevgeny Prigozhin, now the head of the Wagner Group, serves food to Vladimir Putin, then serving as Russia’s prime minister, during dinner at Prigozhin’s restaurant outside Moscow, Russia, Nov. 11, 2011 (AP photo by Misha Japaridze).

The following is an edited transcript of a June 2019 conversation then-WPR editor Elliot Waldman had with Mark Galeotti about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Galeotti is an honorary professor at University College-London's School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the author of, “We Need to Talk About Putin: Why the West Gets Him Wrong and How to Get Him Right.” The two discussed all things Vladimir Putin: his strengths; his foibles; and whether he's actually the geostrategic chess master that many Western commentators have made him out to be—especially prior to the Ukraine war.

In light of the difficulty many are having with making sense of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent march on Moscow, and the way the shocking incident came to a conclusion, we thought WPR readers would benefit from Galeotti’s insight into the way Putin thinks, and the way power works in Russia under his leadership. The discussion was previously only available in audio form. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity. You can listen to the full podcast here.

Elliot Waldman: Your most recent book argues that Vladimir Putin is frequently misunderstood by politicians, by journalists, by commentators, and as a result by the general public. What in your view, is the most important misunderstanding about Putin out there and why is it important to correct that?

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