Russia's place in the world

  • Winston Churchill in 1939: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” (Source: Churchill Society)
  • "Russia is never as strong as she looks; Russia is never as weak as she looks." (Attributed to multiple individuals, including Winston Churchill.)
  • Then director of national intelligence James Clapper in 2016: “'Putin is the first leader since Stalin to expand Russia's territory.” (Source: New York Times)
  • Russian writer Victor Pelevin: “There is no doubt that an anti-Russian conspiracy exists. The problem is that the entire adult population of Russia is involved in it.” (Source: His novel “Generation P,” in Russian)
  • 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismark: "The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia." (Source: "Bismark, the Man and Statesman," a biography by A.J.P. Taylor)
  • Egon Bahr, former director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg: "For Germany, America is indispensable; Russia is immovable." (Source: Arms Control Today)

U.S.-Russia ties

  • Henry Kissinger, 2015: “The United States has put forward no concept of its own except that [post-Soviet] Russia will one day join the world community by some automatic act of conversion.” (Source: The National Interest)
  • John Quincy Adams was America’s first minister to Russia in 1809 and served there until 1814. Ten years later he became the sixth president of the United States. Adams tried to get reelected in 1828, but lost to Gen. Andrew Jackson whose supporters accused Adams, among other things, of “supplying an American woman to the czar when he was minister to Russia years earlier.” (Source: New York Times)
  • In 1909 Leo Tolstoy recalled the following story: “Once while traveling in the Caucasus I happened to be the guest of a Caucasian chief of the Circassians, who, living far away from civilized life in the mountains, had but a fragmentary and childish comprehension of the world and its history… [W]hen I began to tell about the great statesmen and the great generals of the world he seemed at once to become very much interested… ‘You have not told us a syllable about the greatest general and greatest ruler of the world. We want to know something about him. He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock and as sweet as the fragrance of roses. The angels appeared to his mother and predicted that the son whom she would conceive would become the greatest the stars had ever seen. He was so great that he even forgave the crimes of his greatest enemies and shook brotherly hands with those who had plotted against his life. His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America, which is so far away that if a youth should journey to reach it he would be an old man when he arrived. Tell us of that man.’” (Source: The Daily Beast)
  • Abraham Lincoln, 1855: “Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” (Source: Letter to Joshua Speed, Abraham Lincoln Online)
  • Russian physicist Sergei Kapitsa: “Mathematics is what Russians teach to Chinese in American universities.” (Source: Esquire magazine, in Russian)

Cold War

  • American essayist Edward Abbey: “Humankind will not be free until the last Kremlin commissar is strangled with the entrails of the last Pentagon chief of staff.” (Source: “A Voice Crying in the Wilderness”)
  • When German Chancellor Helmut Kohl suggested to U.S. President George H. W. Bush in 1990 that Moscow should get something in return for its acquiescence to the reunification of Germany, Bush replied: “To hell with that! We prevailed, they didn’t. We can’t let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.” (Source: The National Interest)

Nuclear security

  • A Russian military prosecutor in a case involving the theft of bomb-grade uranium in the 1990s remarked that “potatoes were guarded better.” (Source: Chicago Tribune)

Energy exports

  • Repeatedly said about Russia’s dependency on exports of oil and gas: ''The Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stones.''

Defense and aerospace

  • Russian emperor Alexander III in the 19th century: “Russia only has two allies: the army and the navy.” (Source: The National Interest)
  • Then Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work on Russia’s defense capabilities in 2015: "Our adversaries, quite frankly, are pursuing enhanced human operations. And it scares the crap out of us, really." (Source: BreakingDefense.com)
  • “Victory has many fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” (Russian saying)