Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats, New Yorker editor David Remnick on Ukraine, US midterms

NYU’s Distinguished Journalist in Residence Yevgenia Albats spoke with special guest David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, on the war in Ukraine and U.S. politics at the Jordan Center on Nov. 17.

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Danny Arensberg

The “New Yorker” editor David Remnick joined Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats in a panel discussion at NYU’s Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. Danny Arensberg for WSN)

Yezen Saadah, Senior Staff Writer

Russian journalist Yevgenia Albats and editor of The New Yorker David Remnick discussed the political and humanitarian state of Russia and Ukraine at an event hosted by NYU’s Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia on Nov. 17. Albats, who is a Distinguished Journalist in Residence at NYU, also spoke with Remnick about his thoughts on the U.S. midterm elections and their impact on current American politics.

“The one clear loser of the election was Donald Trump,” Remnick said. “What has been normalized in the country as so-called conservative politics is very different from the conservative politics that I grew up on. That has radically transformed into a neo-authoritarian set of policies, psychologies. The influence of what happened has distorted our politics and political rhetoric, I think, for many years to come.”

People gathered in a packed room at the Jordan Center for Remick and Albat’s conversation. At the event, Remnick also spoke about his thoughts on whether or not President Joe Biden should run for re-election, saying that he may face opposition from the Democratic party if he runs. However, he also praised Biden’s diplomatic efforts during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as his military and humanitarian support to the country.

A close-up photo of Yevgenia Albats wearing a purple jacket and glasses with a gold frame. She holds a microphone while talking.
Yevgenia Albats is a Distinguished Journalist in Residence at NYU. (Danny Arensberg for WSN)

Albats and Remnick then spoke about Russia’s decision to declare war on Ukraine which, according to Remnick, was unsurprising. He speculated on the Russian military’s plan for the invasion, suggesting that Russia hoped the Ukrainian government would collapse after they took control of the country.

“The Russian military was meant to be revived after the ’90s,” Remnick said. “And yet, we see the Russian military, in real-time, failing horribly despite outnumbering Ukraine and the Ukrainian forces. Its intelligence failures are spectacular, its weapons seem not to work — it’s astonishing. We see an entire military that doesn’t know why it’s there so therefore it’s unmotivated, disorganized and demoralized.”

Remnick spoke about a recent missile strike in Poland that killed two people, and how that could lead to an escalation of the war. He also argued that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine ironically strengthened Ukrainian national identity and self-perception. 

“The only rationale that was present was Putin’s completely fantastical thinking that Ukraine, in its sum, is not a real country,” Remnick said. “He is shocked that Ukrainian nationalism, self-possession and sense of self exist to the degree that it does. Some Ukrainians felt some sense of attachment towards Russia — most people have now lost it.”

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected]