The west

Was Nato expansion worth the risk?

This is an important and topical book. Mary Sarotte traces the difficult course of Russia’s relations with Europe and the United States during the decade which followed the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, a period which saw Russia’s brief dalliance with democracy and Nato’s advance to the frontiers of the old Soviet Union. The story has been told before, but never so fully or so well. In a remarkable historical coup, Sarotte has persuaded the German foreign ministry to open its archives to her, and the Americans to declassify thousands of documents previously closed to researchers. When Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov was moved to denounce so much

Fractured: can the West fix itself?

There are many ways to fracture a people. But one of the best is to destroy all the remaining ties that bind them. To persuade them that to the extent they have anything of their own, it is not very special, and in the final analysis, hardly worth preserving. This is a process that has gone on across the western world for over a generation: a remorseless, daily assault on everything that most of us were brought up to believe was good about ourselves. Take our national heroes – the people who used to form the epicentre of our feelings of national pride. Twenty years ago, Winston Churchill easily won

Has Putin resurrected the West?

I think Putin will have been surprised. I mean: I was surprised. Weren’t you? Not, necessarily, that Ukraine should have been resisting as valiantly as it is; nor even that Russia’s supposedly unstoppable war machine should have found itself out of petrol on a chilly highway from which the road signs have been removed. But surprised by the sheer force and volume and unanimity of the international cry of: no, this will not stand. That is one thing, even amid the unspeakable human cost of the war in Ukraine, to feel encouraged by. If this invasion does, as many have said, mark the beginning of a new order in European

The descent of Afghanistan

The bomb attacks at Kabul airport were what US and allied commanders overseeing the mass evacuation had most feared. In so far as they could be, they were prepared. They had, it appears, received very specific intelligence — perhaps based on a trial run by the bombers — that such attacks were in the offing. They warned people to stay away from the airport. Guards were doubtless on extra-high alert. And yet the perpetrators got through. More than 60 civilians were killed along with 13 US marines. Dozens more were injured and taken to already overburdened hospitals in Kabul. The carnage of 26 August was the costliest day in the

The Kremlin’s plan to destabilise the West

On Sunday, Russia released its new National Security Strategy. In many ways, it picked up from where the 2015 version left off — on a crusade to politicise and polarise every aspect of Russian culture. This is not a strategy for the country’s security but for the government: the document sets out to mobilise the Russian nation, even Russian identity itself, against western bogeymen at home and abroad. Apart from some more sober references to ecology and partnership with China, most of the strategy reads as a paranoid diatribe against Russia’s oft-cited ‘internal and external enemies’. They loom large on nearly every page, lurking within discussions of national interest, societal