Russia is, as Winston Churchill famously said, ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’. We were very fortunate to have someone to speak to us in the Martyr Worthy lecture series last night who is in a good position to open up that enigma for us. Dr Andrew Monaghan is the Director of Research on Russia and Northern European Defence and Security at the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre at Pembroke College, Oxford. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House and Commissioning Editor of the NATO Defence College’s Russian Studies series. His book Power in Modern Russia: Strategy and Mobilisation (MUP, 2017)
provided much of the material for his talk to us, which managed to appeal to those, like me, whose entire knowledge of Russia is based upon reading War and Peace (or, actually, watching the TV series) and many in the audience who have a (shall we say) professional interest in the subject. His new book Dealing with the Russians is to be published in April.
He spoke passionately and encouraged us to look at Russia from their perspective rather than our own, as a nation surrounded by conflict zones and nuclear armed foes with a pessimistic view of world stability in the future and an economy which is not strong enough to cover everything a modern society might want to do and has thus chosen the path of military mobilisation as its priority.
There were some excellent questions from a number of our audience who clearly were well informed on the subject.
Before the talk we had some delicious canapés and drinks. We are so grateful for the loyal following of so many who attend our lectures one after another and give the support which enables us to keep the show on the road so far as the Itchen Valley Parish is concerned. And, of course, we are immensely grateful to the ladies and gentlemen who make such an effort to put on this wonderful event, particularly Joanna Lang, Verity Coleman, Gilly Greenwood and Liz Platt and thanks also to Madeline Quest Ritson our bookkeeper and Beccy Clark our Parish Administrator and all those involved in putting out chairs, cooking food organising drinks and parking. Thank you all so much.