The collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991 appeared to usher in a remarkable new era of peace and co-operation between Moscow and the West. This, we were told, was the end of history: after decades of struggle, the entire world would embrace enlightenment values and liberal democracy. Reality has proved very different, with each US president leaving relations with Russia in a worse state than he found them. Donald Trump, a self-confessed fan of Vladimir Putin, seemed determined to find a way of breaking out of this dead end. Yet, perversely, his arrival in the White House – and the role the Kremlin is accused of playing in facilitating it – has added yet another complication.
Peter Conradi witnessed the end of the Cold War from Moscow. In his new book, he charts the ups and – mostly – downs of Russia’s relations with the West in the years since, from Boris Yeltsin’s “time of troubles” to the growing authoritarianism of the Putin era.