We recorded this podcast with French security analyst Nicolas Tenzer in early April. In the days that followed, Russia escalated its brinkmanship in and around Ukraine, and Czech authorities expelled 18 Russian diplomats identified as operatives of the SVR and GRU. The Czech Republic holds them responsible for a 2014 blast at an ammunition depot, in the village of Vrbetice, that killed two Czech citizens. Czech police are seeking, in particular, the operatives who in 2018 tried to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter with the nerve agent Novichok, in Salisbury. Czech officials have asked their allies to expel Russian diplomats in solidarity. We are waiting to see if they do.
In the past week, we’ve also received reports that Navalny is near death. Yesterday, the former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, wrote, “Navalny’s life is in Putin’s hands right now. If Putin allows Navalny to die in prison, no believer in human rights—no believer in right and wrong—should ever meet with Putin again. Period.”
The gravamen of Tenzer’s case lies in his response. “I fully agree with you, Mike,” he wrote to the ambassador. “But should world leaders have met with Putin and shaked his hand after the war crimes he committed in Syria, where he deliberately killed more civilians than ISIS?”
This podcast will be of special interest to those who wonder how French foreign policy is made and which institutions must be strengthened—or created—to put it on a more consistent footing. We meant only to record a brief introduction to the essays below, but found ourselves having such an interesting conversation that we kept talking for nearly an hour.
Related essays by Nicolas Tenzer: