As a Russian diplomat and translator, Aleksey Zhivkov spent his entire life in the former Soviet Union.
In his new book, The Russian Twist, he offers a guide to understanding the twists of Russian diplomacy.
The author, a professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, tells me the twist exercise is a way to “see how the Russian foreign minister and foreign minister, and especially the foreign minister of one country, interact with the American and European governments.”
To do this, Zhivov says, the Russian Foreign Ministry sends out a list of “key words” that it hopes the Americans and Europeans will understand and adopt.
“You should always try to learn the word ‘tweet,'” he says.
“If you can say the word, ‘We are glad to meet you,’ you will have a good chance to be heard.
And it’s also a way of showing the foreign ministry that the foreign policy of the United States and Europe is very important to the Russian side.”
Zhivov notes that in the Russian language, there are “about 300 words for foreign policy,” which include “tweet,” “mock,” “coup,” “invite,” “sympathize,” “dissociate,” “treat,” “deal,” “share,” “bilateral,” “contribute,” “refer,” “participate,” “cooperate,” and “share.”
To achieve a “Russian twist,” Zhivavkov explains, the Foreign Ministry will try to “read these words as an example for Americans and European citizens to understand the Russian position, to understand how the United Kingdom and Germany perceive the situation, to see the foreign relations of the two countries in general.”
He suggests that if the Foreign Minister and Foreign Minister of one side can “use these words to communicate the difference between the two positions, they have the chance to show the Americans that they are a partner in this struggle.”
“The most important thing in this exercise is to learn a word or two and to use it wisely,” Zhavkov says.
The Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation has its own twist exercise.
According to its website, the Kremlin’s Foreign Ministry “has conducted over 1,200 spin exercises, including more than 20,000 hours of intensive practice, during the past 30 years.”
In fact, Zhavavkov tells me, the foreign ministers of Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Belarus all participate in the spin exercise.
Zhavavov says the Foreign Ministers of the countries participating in the twist exercises all speak with a clear accent.
“I do not think that the Russians should learn English in order to understand American foreign policy, but in order for them to understand what the American position is, they must learn English,” he says, adding that Russian diplomats have used a Russian twist for decades.
Zhang, the professor at State University, is more blunt.
“It is a waste of time,” he told me.
“The Russian foreign ministry should not be spending all its time trying to understand everything Americans do in foreign policy.
If they are trying to learn how to read American foreign policies, then the foreign ministries of the European Union and the United Nations should be trying to read them, too.”
Zhang also suggests that foreign ministers should “study Russian diplomacy as a language,” which would include learning Russian phrases, and using them to communicate with their foreign counterparts.
The foreign minister should be a “man of the people” who speaks English, not a diplomat who “looks like an American,” he tells me.
Zzhivov also suggests a more nuanced approach.
“They should think about their country’s foreign policy as a dialogue,” he said.
“And this is not a one-way conversation.
You need to be aware of what the Americans are doing and how they are acting.
“Otherwise you will lose.””
For his part, Zhevkov says that he has noticed that the Russian spin exercise has become “the most popular foreign policy exercise among American and Europeans” in recent years. “
Otherwise you will lose.”
For his part, Zhevkov says that he has noticed that the Russian spin exercise has become “the most popular foreign policy exercise among American and Europeans” in recent years.
The Foreign Ministry has “a pretty good rapport with the US Congress, and even with the President of the US,” he notes.
“I don’t think the Russian press is much more sensitive than the American press,” he added.
“But the Russian media doesn’t really talk about what the US foreign minister is saying.”
As the years have passed, Zhovavkov believes the American spin exercise will become more and more popular.
“When I was a student