Some seek Russia. Others have it thrust upon them.
Paul Sonne is of that second category. We’ll let him tell the story.
“In the late 1990s,” he recalls, “I asked to take French and German at my public middle school in suburban Albany, New York. At the time, the district’s Russian program was struggling with little demand, so the school began forcing certain students to take the language regardless of their requests. One of those students, much to his chagrin at the time, was me.”
It was only a matter of time before Paul was happily interning at the Moscow Bureau of The New York Times, hitching rides home in Zhigulis and on his way to a distinguished career as a correspondent with The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
Now we are bringing him back as our newest Russia correspondent.
Paul’s history with Moscow and experience covering national security in Washington will strengthen an expanded Russia team, led by bureau chief Anton Troianovski, that is already stacked with talent and has been central to our award-winning coverage of the war in Ukraine and how it is changing the world.
Paul’s first professional byline appeared in The Times in 2005, a story about a television adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic novel “The Master and Margarita.” He went on to join the Journal, where he worked in the London, Moscow and Washington bureaus for nine eventful years. He covered the Maidan revolution in Kyiv, Russia’s takeover of Crimea and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 outside Donetsk, not to mention the Olympics in two cities and the Pentagon under two presidents. When we asked David Enrich about his time working with Paul at the Journal, he said: “Paul is the best — the perfect combination of dogged reporter, gifted storyteller and wonderful colleague.”
For the past five years, Paul has been a national security reporter for The Washington Post, where he helped cover President Trump’s first impeachment, served on the Pandora Papers investigative team and produced urgent, revelatory work on Russia, the war in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin. Tiffany Harness, who was Paul’s editor at The Post, described him as “a gifted writer who finds those special details that keep readers reading,” adding that “his deep knowledge of Russia will serve us well.”
Paul graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Russian literature and received a master’s in Russian history and politics at Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
Please join us in welcoming him to The Times.
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