This article is a reprint. See the original and listen to the podcast at the Renew Democracy Initiative on Substack.
By Garry Kasparov
“World War III is upon us—in fact, it has already begun. We are doing our best to keep you informed by launching a new podcast, moving our newsletter onto Substack, and offering guest contributions from experts such as my partners on RDI’s Board.
For more than a decade, Vladimir Putin has waged war on the civilized world of international law, democracy, and any threat to his power. The Cold War didn’t end; the West quit.
Ukrainians are fighting on the frontlines of this global war. They battle against a dictator emboldened by two decades of friendly treatment and concessions from the West. With each death, the Ukrainian people pay a debt that the US and EU accrued every time they chose to appease Putin.
The advance of Putin’s army didn’t start with Ukraine, and he has no plans to stop it there. If you fear that NATO will come into direct conflict with Russia’s army, you should. Putin intends it. He will march his army west past the Dnieper onto the border of Poland. He will order it north toward the Baltic states, which he has demanded lose their full NATO status. He will do all of this because he can, and he can because we let him.
Putin’s battle is in Ukraine, but his war is against democracy. Peaceful and prosperous democracies are proof to the Russian people that Putin’s reign is a catastrophic mistake. As his dictatorship could never deliver for the Russian people like a democracy could, he must degrade democracy wherever it exists. In Western Europe and the United States, that has meant meddling in elections, financing extremist parties, and funding troll farms to drive hateful division. In Ukraine, it means war.
I joined other leaders, activists, journalists, and academics to found RDI on the belief that the fight to achieve democracy in oppressive countries and the struggle to defend it in America are connected. When Putin marches into a neighboring country to prop up its dictator or destroy its fairly-elected government, his target is democracy everywhere. When democracy falters in the United States, it strengthens Putin and other dictators like him. The crisis in Ukraine is throwing this fact into sharp relief, and our work is as important as ever before.
This crisis is demanding, and as it unfolds we want to offer you as much as we can. As an organization, we are transitioning some of our content onto Substack, where we can expand into new media, host guest contributions from experts such as my partners on RDI’s Board, and encourage comments and conversation among our community.
As the first new offering, I’m launching Winter is Here, a podcast with RDI’s executive director, Uriel Epshtein. Each Friday, we’ll release an episode discussing the global war between freedom and tyranny. Our inaugural episode launches today, and you can find it at the top of this post. We spoke with Lt. Col (Ret) Alexander Vindman, whose expertise and personal bravery have never been more relevant.
Our weekly Democracy Brief newsletter, written by our brilliant Content & Strategy Manager, James Lewis, will continue to arrive in your inboxes on Thursday mornings as usual. It will look a bit different and the author won’t be anonymous any longer, but you can expect the same wide-ranging analysis of topics related to democracy in the US and abroad.
With this change, we’ll also be able to offer you exclusive content from the RDI network, with guest pieces landing in your inbox either in place of the regular newsletter or as additional op-eds, videos, or podcasts.
Lastly, we want to build a community together. While we’ll keep offering our analysis of the pressing stories in democracy in the US and around the world, we want you to be able to discuss them, ask questions, and offer your thoughts as well. On Substack, our comments will be open where we encourage you to react to our work, share your opinion, and discuss what needs to be done to defend democracy. In the future, we intend to create more opportunities for you to engage with us in Q&A’s, happy hours, and open conversations.
The tragedy in Ukraine demands our attention, and we will do our best to answer that call. All the while, we won’t ignore the crisis in democracy in America that is both aiding Putin’s aggression and is exacerbated by it. As we embark on this next phase in RDI’s history with you, we encourage you to share this post with your friends and colleagues and invite them to join our community.
RDI Founder & Chairman”