Monday 15 September 2014

Is Putin playing chess or poker?

James Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which is the oldest American postgraduate college specialising in international affairs, said in a New York Times article, on September 1 

The really ironic aspect here is that a re-energized, restrengthened NATO is Vladimir Putin’s worst nightmare, and yet it’s his tactical actions that have done just that.

This is why, when fans of Putin tell me he is very intelligent I hold to my view that he is very cunning but not very clever. 

Tactical, not strategic is perhaps saying the same thing. Masha Gassen says something like that when she says he only thinks six weeks ahead.

Henry Kissinger said last week that

The Russians play chess; we play poker.

For a Russian who admires Putin's strategic vision, click here.

But others disagree.  Edward Lucas said recently that
...we're playing chess and Putin's playing poker
but didn't elaborate in the interview I read. This article agrees.  

Back in April so did Gary Kasparov, who ought to know:

He’s very good at raising the stakes all the time. I believe he has a very weak hand, but he’s very good at bluffing... The rule in dealing with these kind of people is very simple: The sooner you stop them, the less the price you will pay.

As I play neither chess nor poker I cannot judge very well, but I do wonder if Dr Kissinger is thinking of Gromyko. 

Read more here:


  1. Amberley excelled at chess - one mark, Watson, of a scheming mind. The Retired Colourman

  2. Mr Putin sees the West as a threat to Russia and the People's Republic of China as a good ally for Russia - he is mistaken.

    1. There are no eternal friendships, only eternal interests. Palmerston. He is right obviously that the West is his enemy. He has ensured this but there are many other reasons besides his aggression. Russia and China are united by fear of Sunni Islam and both support Iran in Syria etc for this reason.