Hill offers a balanced history of the sad devolution of relations between Russia and the West, from the high hopes in the years after the Cold War to today’s fractured situation. The stark divisions between eastern and western Europe, he argues, are the result of decisions taken by each of the participants that “made very good sense at the time” and “were the product of a conscious choice between important alternatives.” Often leaders were oblivious to “unforeseen and unintended” consequences. Sometimes, they simply followed “the path of least resistance.” Hill uses abundant examples to trace more thoroughly than any other historian what has happened inside Russia and in its relations with NATO, the EU, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe over the last 25 years. If Russia and Europe are to recover from their failures and build a system that includes Moscow, he concludes, these institutions will have to be either refurbished or replaced.
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