Moments Posted in Russia/Soviet Union

This is an archive of Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History posted in the Russia/Soviet Union category.

 Taking the Chill off the Cold War: The First Reagan-Gorbachev Summit

The Geneva Summit of 1985 was the first meeting between President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev to talk about the arms race, particularly the Strategic Defense Initiative, and to establish personal relations between the leaders of the world’s superpowers.  Held November 19, 1985 at a chateau owned by the Aga Khan, the first meeting went over […]



Kopeks and Big Macs – Russia’s Move to a Market Economy

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the winter of 1991, the newly-formed Russian Federation took on the challenge of creating a market-oriented economy from the world’s largest state-controlled economy. President Yeltsin’s economic reforms led to hyperinflation and loss of financial security for many who had depended on state pensions, and Russia’s GDP contracted […]



1989 — A Swift Look at an Incredible Year

1989 — A year filled with magic, madness, heaven and sin. Among the defining years of the 20th century, 1989 had a lasting impact on the social, political and economic structures of modern diplomacy. Ruthless dictatorships, which seemed impervious to change, suddenly began falling one after another, so much so that 1989 is commonly referred […]



The U-2 Spy Plane Incident

On May 1, 1960, an America U-2 spy plane was shot down in Soviet airspace, causing great embarrassment to the United States, which had tried to conceal its surveillance efforts from the USSR. In 1957, the U.S. had established a secret intelligence facility in Pakistan in order to send U-2 spy planes into Soviet airspace […]



The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 14-28, 1962

The early years of the Kennedy Administration proved to be a tense time in relations with the Soviet Union. Kennedy had decided to go ahead with the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion (which had initially been authorized by his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower) and then was severely tested during the 1961 Berlin Crisis, when Soviet leader […]



A Russo-American Diplomat: Back in the USSR

Vladimir Toumanoff, a Foreign Service officer for 25 years, had the extraordinary experience of returning as an American diplomat to the country which his parents had fled. The Toumanoffs were members of the Russian nobility who fought in the White army against the Bolsheviks. They left Russia in 1919 and eventually emigrated to the U.S. […]



Putin, The Early Years

From his crackdown on domestic opposition to his decision to invade Crimea and bomb U.S.-backed rebels in Syria, Vladimir Putin has increasingly become a thorn in the side of Western policymakers. His aggressive policies combined with his KGB background and over-the-top machismo have made him a bigger-than-life figure on the world stage, despite Russia’s flagging […]



Day of Atonement, Day of Animosity – The 1973 Yom Kippur War

For Egypt and Syria, the 1967 Six-Day War was a bitter defeat at the hands of long-time foe Israel. They wanted to regain the Sinai and the Golan Heights while Egyptian President Anwar Sadat also wanted to reopen the Suez Canal. On October 6, 1973 they launched a surprise attack on Israeli positions in the Israeli-occupied territories on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism, […]



From Victim of Nuremberg Laws to “Kissinger’s Kissinger”

The Nuremberg Laws were introduced by the Nazi government in Germany on September 15, 1935 to ostracize and impoverish its Jewish population. The laws prohibited marriages between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans, limited employment and revoked citizenship.  Jewish workers and managers were fired and Jewish businesses sold to non-Jewish Germans at prices far below market value. […]



Negotiating the End of the Yom Kippur War

Israel’s resounding victory in the Six-Day War of 1967 left the Arab states humiliated and looking to regain the swathes of territory they had lost. On October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Egyptian and Syrian forces attacked Israeli positions in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights, shocking Israel […]