January 27, 2022

Op-ed for The New York Times

a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She writes about Russian domestic politics and foreign policy.

That’s the line from President Vladimir Putin. The war in Ukraine, in its fifth month and with no end in sight, may be grueling. But senior Kremlin officials keep repeating that Russia, gaining the upper hand in Ukraine’s east, will achieve all its goals.

That might seem hard to believe. After all, Russia has been forced to retreat from Kyiv, experienced several military reversals, faced sanctions on an unprecedented scale and been subjected to a chorus of international condemnation. To call such a litany of difficulties and outright failures a success may be to court the charge of propaganda, hypocrisy or even self-delusion.

But it’s what the Kremlin seems to believe. Over two decades I have closely followed Mr. Putin’s words, behavior and decisions, forming a comprehensive picture of the president’s calculations. Based on his public rhetoric and policy moves and informal discussions with insiders, I have been able to work out — as far as is possible — the contours of the Kremlin’s current thinking. What is very clear is that in late May, the Kremlin came to the firm conclusion that it is winning this conflict in the long run. And Mr. Putin, in contrast to the early chaotic months, now has a clear plan.

Consisting of three main dimensions, the plan is a kind of strategic Russian doll. Each aspect fits within another, amounting to a grand scheme that goes far beyond Ukraine yet centers on it. It may sound extremely fanciful, and it certainly reveals how divorced from reality — to put it mildly — Mr. Putin is. But it’s important for the West, whose response has wavered between confrontation and acquiescence, to understand the full scope of Mr. Putin’s hopes as it continues to assess its role in defending Ukraine against Russian aggression.



Comment for The Washington Post

Putin’s war grinds on, with dissent from Russian hawks and peace-seekers

Tatiana Stanovaya, the Paris-based head of the R. Politik political consultancy, recently wrote on her Telegram channel that Putin is “stuck between two worlds” in that he can neither crush Ukraine nor retreat with his reputation intact.

“Everyone has already forgotten that Putin was once called a president of half-measures,” Stanovaya said. “Of course, everyone is unhappy.”


Comment for Reuters

Chechen chief Kadyrov says Russia will make no concessions in Ukraine

Kadyrov, who rose to power in the mainly Muslim southern Russian region of Chechnya in the wake of two brutal wars after the Soviet Union’s collapse, has often described himself as Putin’s “foot soldier”. Moscow has poured in huge sums of money to rebuild the region under him. Though he wields outsize power and is one of the country’s most influential regional chiefs, his statements contradicting Medinsky by name were highly unusual on such a sensitive subject as the war.

“This is of course a serious problem for Putin,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a political analyst, on Telegram.


Comment for The Washington Post

The man who has Putin’s ear — and may want his job

Russian security chief Nikolai Patrushev is one of the Russian president’s few close advisers

Patrushev’s ascendance underlines the influence of hard-line former KGB men, who have been battling liberal-leaning technocrats for Putin’s ear for more than two decades. When Putin launched the war, it seemed “Patrushev’s moment had come,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, the founder of the Russian political consultancy R.Politik. “His ideas form the foundations of decisions taken by Putin. He is one of the few figures Putin listens to.”
Comment for Newsweek

What is Going On Inside Vladimir Putin’s Head? 12 Experts Weigh In

Tatiana Stanovaya, founder of analysis firm R.Politik firm

“There are people who go crazy and believe that they serve some higher power, God, or something else, perceiving themselves only as a…tool in the hands of great forces.

“Putin is not there yet, but there is something in common. For him, this higher power is the State, as it has been historically understood and he sees himself as its servant.

“The problem is that personal responsibility is diminished and you feel that you are acting on behalf of history.

“With such a vision you can go very far without remorse.”— Telegram


Comment for CNN

Putin has put himself at the center of Russia’s Victory Day. But he has little to celebrate

Comment for The Foreign Policy

The Fall and Fall of Dmitry Medvedev

How the former Russian president went from geeky technocrat to deranged war hawk.

By , a national security and intelligence reporter at Foreign Policy.

Threats of fire and brimstone have become the norm from senior Russian officials and hosts on Russian state television. But even by these standards, the remarks from the once mild-mannered Medvedev have raised eyebrows. The former president’s descent into a barely intelligible rage against the Western machine mirrors Russia’s broader shift from annoying neighbor to an existential threat to Europe—and maybe worse.

“It’s one of the [bigger] intrigues of current domestic policy,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a Russian political analyst and founder of the R.Politik consultancy. Cognizant of circling hawks, Medvedev’s outbursts are likely an attempt to curry favor in Russia’s new political climate, which has become markedly more nationalist and intolerant of dissent since the invasion of Ukraine in February.

“Russia has changed. And Medvedev has to show that he belongs to this Russia,” Stanovaya said.


Comment for Forbes

Meet The Oligarch Who Whispers In Putin’s Ear

Since the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, media coverage on Russian TV networks have echoed themes in Putin’s speeches. This week, pundits and anchors have pushed conspiracy theories about Ukraine developing biological weapons with U.S. support. Ukraine and the Biden administration have denied those charges.

Kovalchuk is “known for his anti-liberal and anti-Western views” and his “conspiracy” thinking, says Tatiana Stanovaya, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center and founder of newsite R.Politik. “People like Kovalchuk understand Putin’s priorities and goals,” she said. “They can feel it, and try to adapt media policy to such needs.”… Kovalchuk is someone with whom Putin “can really share his life, his visions,” Stanovaya says. “And he trusts him.”


Comment for The Washington Post

Russia’s ultimate political survivor faces a wartime reckoning

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, a fixture of Russian political life since the Soviet Union’s fall, could be on the hook for military failures

By Paul Sonne and Catherine Belton
May 8, 2022 at 5:00 a.m. EDT
Shoigu’s future is now on the line. Having retreated from its attack on Kyiv, the Russian military is facing immense pressure to save face and capture a larger swath of Ukraine’s east. Questions persist about how much blame Shoigu should bear for the Russian force’s failures — as opposed to Russia’s military leaders and intelligence chiefs, widely seen to have miscalculated how much Ukrainians would resist.
“There are reports that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is very disappointed in how Shoigu prepared for this war, how he carried it out,” Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said.
Comment for The New York Times

The Russian president seems to be back to his former self.

June 30, 2022

Tatiana Stanovaya, a longtime Kremlin expert based in France, said Putin was “betting that with time, the Kyiv authorities will have to accept everything.”

Russia has been closely following statements by President Biden’s administration, Stanovaya said, “and has decided: ‘OK, the rules of the game have been established. They are acceptable to us. So we can calm down and simply wait.’”

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