Rodric Braithwaite

Why Russia couldn’t give up on empire  

18 December 2022 8:00 pm

One hundred years ago this December, delegations from the core nations of the East Slavs, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus signed the…

How the West misunderstood Russia’s military capabilities 

10 December 2022 9:00 am

Putin’s new army looked lean and mean, but old, inherent weaknesses persisted: over-rigid commanders, demoralised soldiers and shaky logistics

The humanity of Mikhail Gorbachev

1 September 2022 5:51 am

Mikhail Gorbachev, the final President of the Soviet Union who died last night, was remarkable both as an international politician…

The unedifying Afghan blame game

19 August 2022 4:00 pm

A year ago we scuttled out of Afghanistan. We abandoned the aim we and the Americans had proclaimed so noisily…

Putin will not survive a failed war in Ukraine

5 March 2022 3:01 am

Vladimir Putin has had a very bad week. His army, allegedly refurbished after its poor performance in the war against…

Putin’s nightmare is becoming a reality

1 March 2022 5:32 pm

‘Those he commands move only in command, nothing in love’. Shakespeare always gets it right. I remembered his words about…

Has Putin lost control?

23 February 2022 7:15 pm

As the Soviet Union fell to pieces around our ears, we in the Moscow embassy used to discuss the Weimar…

Glasnost merely confirmed Russia’s deep-seated suspicion of democracy

11 December 2021 9:00 am

Thirty years ago the Soviet Union was guttering to its close. Those of us who were there remember the exhilarating…

Afghanistan and the end of the American hegemony

21 August 2021 4:15 pm

We used to sneer at the way the Russians were chased out of Afghanistan by a ragtag of mujaheddin armed…

Why autocracy in Russia always fails in the end

6 March 2021 9:00 am

Churchill was wrong: Russia is neither a riddle nor an enigma. Russians themselves concoct endless stories to glorify their country’s…

The true diplomat considers the future more than the present

20 February 2021 9:00 am

The 17th-century diplomat Sir Henry Wotton said that an ambassador was ‘an honest man sent to lie abroad for his…

Demystifying the world of espionage

31 October 2020 9:00 am

John le Carré once wrote sadly that he felt ‘shifty’ about his contribution to the glamorisation of the spying business.…

The Big Three who ended the Cold War

14 March 2020 9:00 am

Historians argue endlessly and pointlessly about the extent to which the human factor rather than brute circumstance determines the course…

Yalta was a carve-up — and the Poles are understandably still bitter about it

16 November 2019 9:00 am

‘The strong do what they can. The weak suffer what they must.’ Thucydides’ principle expresses an uncomfortable truth. The eight-day…

General de Gaulle says ‘Non’. Credit: Getty Images

When the Grand Design met ‘le Grand Non’: Britain in the early 1960s

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Peter Hennessy is a national treasure. He is driven by a romantic, almost sensual, fascination with British history, culture, and…

Of course Russians have a sense of humour – just look at the Salisbury ‘tourists’

29 September 2018 9:00 am

The comedy of Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, the two glum Russian ‘tourists’ who denied on television that they were…

Now you see him, now you don’t: Nikolai Yezhov, nicknamed ‘the poison dwarf’, who as head of the NKVD presided over mass arrests and executions at the height of the Great Purge, was airbrushed from Soviet history after his own execution in 1940

The spying game: when has espionage changed the course of history?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Espionage, Christopher Andrew reminds us, is the second oldest profession. The two converged when Moses’s successor Joshua sent a couple…