Quotes from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin

592 pages

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“Putin had told Yeltsin that he did not like election campaigns, and now he dismissed campaign promises as unachievable lies told by politicians and denigrated television advertisements as unseemly manipulation of gullible consumers.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Ukraine, in contrast, had deep ethnic, cultural, and economic ties to Russia—and to Putin. It was the historical root of Russia itself: Kievan Rus, the medieval fief whose leader, Vladimir the Great, adopted Christianity in 988, and the frontier of the tsarist empires that followed—its name translated literally as the Ukraine, or “the border.” Its borders had shifted over time: Parts of its western territory had belonged to Poland or the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Stalin seized some of it with his secret pact with Hitler in 1939 and the rest after the end of the Great Patriotic War. Ukraine’s modern shape took form, but it seemed ephemeral, subject to the larger forces of geopolitics, as most borderlands have been throughout history. In 1954, Nikita Khrushchev decreed that Crimea, conquered by Catherine the Great in the eighteenth century and heroically defended against the Nazis, would be governed by the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic from Kiev, not from Moscow. No”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“It was as if the bear that was the Soviet Union had woken from two decades of hibernation.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Even with Putin set to remain as prime minister, many wanted to believe that Putin planned eventually to cede political control to a new generation of leaders. With Medvedev at the helm, Putin could become Russia’s Deng Xiaoping, officially handing over the reins while wielding power from behind the scenes to ensure the fulfillment of his policies—as Deng did for another five years until his death in 1997. Many”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“The horrific siege hardened Putin’s views that Russia faced an existential threat. The rebels fighting on the country’s flank would, with international support, tear the country apart, and the only answer was to destroy them.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin



“Whether or not the decision was made in 2008 or in 2011, Medvedev proved to be nothing more than a pawn in Putin’s gambit to sidestep the letter of the law that limited a leader’s term. Russians”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“The Snowden affair gave Putin the evidence that confirmed his complaints about American hegemony and perfidy, the hypocrisy of the three American administrations he had now dealt with. Snowden’s disclosures tarnished President Obama’s reputation and undercut his foreign policy, souring relations even with allies like Germany, whose chancellor, Angela Merkel, learned that her own telephone conversations had been tapped. It”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“If you are determined to become a complete Islamic radical and are ready to undergo circumcision, then I invite you to Moscow. We are a multiconfessional nation. We have experts in this sphere as well. I will recommend the operation be conducted so that nothing on you will grow again.”49”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“The country’s oligarchs themselves had divided loyalties and ambitions and thus were never entirely subservient. Putin had tamed Russia’s oligarchs, while in Ukraine they still threw their support—and cash—behind different political factions, depending on their financial interests.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Natural gas, even more than oil, had become Russia’s most powerful tool in foreign policy. Oil trades freely, sloshing through the world’s economy; gas requires fixed pipelines, linking the nations of Europe to Russia. The network of pipelines, dating to the Soviet era, gave Russia clout and, with rising energy prices, the prospect of the wealth that Putin nearly a decade before had argued in his dissertation was the core of the state’s power. Ukraine,”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin



“The president is an institution guaranteeing a nation’s stability and integrity. And God forbid that we live to see a day when this institution collapses—Russia will not survive another February 1917. The nation’s history tells us that a bad government is better than no government at all.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Popular will, in Putin’s view, was the road to chaos. The people could not be entrusted with the power to choose their own leaders except in the most carefully controlled process.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“There were even accusations that Russia had offered paintings from the storerooms of the State Hermitage Museum in Petersburg as gifts to delegates who would ultimately vote to award the cup. One painting was said to be a Picasso;”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Authority in Russia had always been transferred through natural death, conspiracy or revolution,”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“I want to step down this year, Vladimir Vladimirovich,” Yeltsin said he told him. “This year. That’s very important. The new century must begin with a new political era, the era of Putin. Do you understand?”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin



“The conflict in Serbia inflamed Russia’s wounded pride over its deflated status since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The new Russia lacked the ability to shape world events, which made the American-led actions even harder to swallow. Yeltsin berated President Clinton, insisting that an intervention was forbidden by international law, only to be ignored. Russia resented the fact that the United States and its expanding NATO alliance were acting as if they could impose their will on the new world order without regard to Russia’s interests. Even worse, the conflict in Kosovo had striking parallels to the one in Chechnya, and even Russians not prone to paranoia could imagine a NATO campaign on behalf of Chechnya’s independence movement.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Throughout his first term Putin had favored the security men in his appointments, by some estimates filling as many as 70 percent of senior government positions with former military, police, or intelligence officers, many of whom had the same background in the KGB.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Each new acquisition emboldened Putin. At the end of 2005, Gazprom hiked the price of natural gas it delivered to Ukraine from a heavily discounted $50 per 1,000 cubic meters to $230, in line with prices charged in the rest of Europe. The increase was transparent retribution for Yushchenko’s flirtation with the West after taking power. Putin”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Bush pledged friendship and cooperation, but Putin also heard the voices of others in Washington, liberals and conservatives, who criticized Russia and seemed intent on keeping it in its weakened post-Soviet state.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Russia, though, had become fertile ground for conspiracies, real and imagined, and the deaths of Litvinenko, Politkovskaya, and the others challenged the carefully cultivated impression that Putin presided over an era of progress, stability, and renewed national pride that left behind the violent chaos of the 1990s. Many”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin



“The share of oil profits the government received had nearly doubled, and revenues had surged from less than $6 billion when Putin became prime minister to more than $80 billion.5 The Russians now talked about becoming the world’s largest oil producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Putin had made himself the ultimate authority in Russia, but his “vertical of power” created paralysis in times of crisis: No one would risk taking an initiative that might provoke disapproval.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Putin coined a slogan for his vision of a new, rule-abiding Russia that was secure and prosperous. It embodied the internal contradictions of his ideology, of his background as a lawyer and intelligence officer, and of his temperament. He felt it so deeply he used it twice in one letter. Russia, he declared, would be “a dictatorship of the law.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“The collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed old grievances, which culminated in Chechnya’s declaration of independence and the disastrous war from 1994 to 1996. In Putin’s mind, this amounted to the dismemberment of Russia itself, aided and abetted by nefarious foreign influences. Apparently, he meant the victors of the Cold War, principally the United States.29”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“I can distinctly hear the beatings of the wings of the angel of death,” it went, in improbably elegant English, which Litvinenko had barely learned to speak during his years in exile. “I may be able to give him the slip, but I have to say my legs do not run as fast as I would like. I think, therefore, that this may be the time to say one or two things to the person responsible for my illness. You may succeed in silencing men, but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown you have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value. You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women. You may succeed in silencing one man, but a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin



“Vladimir Putin portrayed himself as an avowed democrat. And yet even then, at the dawn of democracy in Russia, he warned that the imperative of the strong state—and the people’s willingness to accept, even desire it—remained part of the collective Russian temperament.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“Putin is not a Stalin who feels obliged to destroy anyone who might potentially at some future point disagree with him,” he had once said. “Putin is somebody who wants to amass the power needed to accomplish his immediate task.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“When Kissinger flew into Petersburg for a visit, it was Vladimir Putin who met him at the airport and took him to the mayor’s residence, chatting about his KGB past. “All decent people got their start in intelligence,” Kissinger told him, to his delight. “I did, too.”12 Soon”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“The war of Putin’s new ideology was the war of his youth: honorable, righteous, unblemished, and unrepentant.”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin


“So stagnant was life in the Soviet Union then that even a sclerotic socialist system like East Germany’s seemed prosperous by comparison,”
― quote from The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin



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