On the Battlefields of the Cold War: A Soviet Ambassador's Confession

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On the Battlefields of the Cold War: A Soviet Ambassador's Confession

By Victor L. Israelyan
Penn State University Press, 2003
414 pp. $45.00

In the reconstruction of postwar Soviet foreign policy, Israelyan's memoir is more bricks than pilings but a very important contribution nonetheless. Israelyan served in key second-level positions in the Soviet Foreign Ministry from 1968 to 1987 and before that as a senior figure in the Foreign Ministry's Diplomatic Academy. As one of the Soviet Union's deputy permanent representatives to the United Nations from 1968 until 1973, he was in the thick of key battles (over China's admission to the UN in 1971, the Middle East conflict, and the third Indo-Pakistani war). Subsequently, as head of the ministry's International Organization Department and then as the Soviet representative to the Geneva Committee on Disarmament, he had a firsthand view of the Soviet approach to arms control. He makes no effort to conceal the compromises he accepted at each stage of his career, and this lends credibility to his account of personalities, attitudes, and relationships inside the foreign-policymaking machinery. This is intriguing material for the general reader and valuable material for future historians.

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