Luke Harding, author of the book “Shadow State,” speaks to New Lines’ Faisal Al Yafai about the increasingly bold activities of Russia’s ruthless intelligence services. They discuss the challenges of reporting on such a secretive world — and the heroism of the Russian citizens working to expose it.
But could it be that Putin means something quite different - and that for him and his generation of Russians the USSR is a shorthand for an era of lost stability and respect? Is Putin just tactless, or actually dangerous?
Stierlitz’s mission is a moral crusade — to stop a deal between the West and Nazi Germany “za spinoi” (behind the back) of Moscow. This idea has immense resonance in modern Russia, where Putin repeatedly claims Russia has been stabbed in the back by the West without consultation, notably over NATO’s eastward expansion.
Mhesn Alabdullah’s cousin Hamadi Bouta, a Syrian army deserter, was savagely beaten to death and mutilated on camera by soldiers of the notorious Wagner Group in eastern Syria in 2017. Now his family wants justice.
"No one can build anything on blood. Blood has never been a foundation for any construction. On the contrary, it turns into a swamp in which you drown. Why fight for strangers and kill for strangers?"
The cost to Putin in casualties would be enormous — not to mention triggering crippling economic sanctions that could shut down not just Nord Stream 2 but all of Russia’s exports of gas, oil, steel, aluminum and nickel. “We don’t see any plausible way in which Putin could actually win a war if he started it,” the British official told New Lines. “It’s not very clear what his war aims would even be.”
If anywhere is the end of the earth, it’s here — in every sense. Vorkuta is obscene. Obscene in its rape of the earth, its wanton waste of resources, its reckless poisoning of its own inhabitants and the planet. The very ground is doubly poisoned, both physically and karmically. It’s a historical crime scene and an ongoing ecological disaster zone. Tragedy is Vorkuta’s gravity. And it pulls you down, powerfully.