Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews writes about Russia for The Spectator and is the author of Overreach: The Inside Story of Putin’s War Against Ukraine.

Sanctions against Russia have backfired

Does a British government department have the right to punish individuals who have broken no laws on the basis of their political views? Are private companies allowed to discriminate against customers on the basis of their nationality alone? For the past two years, the answer to both these questions has been yes – if they

Back to the future: Sunak’s big gamble

45 min listen

On the podcast: It’s been a busy week in Westminster. On Monday, Rishi Sunak’s first major reshuffle saw Suella Braverman sacked and David Cameron make a surprise return to politics.  Then two days later, the Supreme Court’s Rwanda ruling left the government’s pledge to ‘stop the boats’ in tatters. It was meant to be the

The exiled activists who dream of dismantling the Russian empire

There is a dream called the Republic of Ingermanlandia. This republic’s values will be European, its borders will be open and it will prosper like its neighbour Estonia on the back of a booming digital economy. For the moment Ingermanlandia is better known as Russia’s Leningrad Region, and its capital as St Petersburg. But soon,

Katy Balls, Owen Matthews, Kate Andrews and Ian Thomson

28 min listen

This week Katy Balls asks whether Rishi is a risk taker or whether he’ll choose to play it safe as Conference season approaches (01.17), Owen Matthews explains why America is still Ukraine’s best hope for victory (07.27), Kate Andrews is totally baffled and exasperated by the British refusal to get checked out by a doctor

India’s century: Sunak’s plan for a new Indo-Pacific alliance

35 min listen

This week: In his cover piece for the magazine, The Spectator’s political correspondent James Heale writes that the PM’s visit to New Delhi for the G20 Summit next week could be a defining moment in the special relationship between Britain and India. He is joined by Shanker Singham, former advisor to UK Secretary of State for International

Why the US will decide Ukraine’s fate

As Ukraine marked its 32nd national holiday since independence, news from the front lines and the wider world appeared better than perhaps in any week since the recapture of Kherson in November. In Zaporizhzhia, the hard-fought front lines moved a few miles forward. In Crimea, a missile strike took out a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft complex

Yevgeny Prigozhin was a dead man walking

Yevgeny Prigozhin died, as Macbeth almost said, as one that had been studied in his death. In the last three minutes of its existence, Prigozhin’s private Embraer Legacy jet climbed fast towards the sun, reaching the giddying height of 8,800 meters before parabolically returning to earth, spinning slowly in flames before hitting the ground at

Supercops: the return of tough policing

40 min listen

In this week’s cover article, The Spectator‘s political editor Katy Balls takes a look at the bottom-up reform that’s happening in some parts of the country, and asks whether tough policing is making a comeback. Katy joins the podcast together with Kate Green, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor of Crime and Policing. (00:50) Next, the war has

The Ukrainian war is coming to Moscow

A few hours after Ukrainian kamikaze drones struck the proud towers of the Moscow City business centre, a Muscovite friend received a cold call from her insurance company. Would she like to upgrade her home insurance to include drone attacks, a chirpy salesman asked. Another couple of friends, out for a walk in the woods

Russia’s complex relationship with the ruble

The most impressive banknote I have ever seen is the 500 ruble note produced by the Imperial Bank of Russia between 1905 and 1912. About four times the size of a modern £50 note, it is magnificently emblazoned with a portrait of Peter the Great and a profusion of cupids and classical pillars. It looks

After Putin: how nervous should we be?

37 min listen

This week: In the magazine we look at the Wagner Group’s failed coup and its implications for Putin’s reign. The Spectator’s Russia correspondent Owen Matthews examines why the Kremlin permits the existence of private armies such as Prigozhin’s Wagner Group, and joins the podcast alongside Jim Townsend, former deputy secretary of defence for European and NATO policy

The Wagner Group isn’t Russia’s only private army

Allowing a psychopath to form a private army of violent criminals may not, on reflection, have been Vladimir Putin’s greatest idea. But Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutinous Wagner Group is by no means the only private army operating in Russia. Over the past couple of months no fewer than five armies have been fighting on Russian soil.

Prigozhin has made Putin more dangerous than ever

As rebel tanks trundled up the highway towards Moscow yesterday morning, Vladimir Putin labelled the mutinous mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin a ‘traitor’ – and vowed to crush him. But hours later Putin capitulated, allowing Prigozhin to retire to an honourable exile in Belarus and pardoning the 25,000-strong Wagner force which had spent the day in

Why Prigozhin rebelled

Civil war broke on Russia like a thunderstorm, replacing weeks of mounting political heat with a deluge of fire and fury. The sound of rifles and mortars echoed around Rostov-on-Don hours after mercenaries of the Wagner private military company took over the headquarters of the Russian Army’s Southern command. Wagner troops were filmed placing anti-tank

Where’s Putin? The Russian leader is losing control

‘Does Putin even still exist? Where is he anyway?’ asked Igor Strelkov, former minister of defence of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic last month in one of the regular video rants he publishes on his Telegram channel. It’s a good question. Since 3 May, the Kremlin has been struck by two Ukrainian drones while up

Vladimir Putin must be praying that Lukashenko survives

Belarus’s president Aleksandr Lukashenko has been missing from public view since being taken ill during a Victory Day parade in Moscow on 9 May. If Belarus’s dictator dies or is incapacitated Vladimir Putin – his neighbour, patron and only regional ally – will have a vast, even existential, problem on his hands. It was mass

Erdogan faces runoff vote in the Turkish elections

Turkey is a strange kind of democracy. But nonetheless it is a democracy where an apparently invincible strongman can – in theory at least – be deposed after two decades in power by the will of the electorate. With over 99 per cent of the votes of Sunday night’s presidential vote counted, it looks like