Nick Hordern reviews 'Return to Moscow' by Tony Kevin

Nick Hordern reviews 'Return to Moscow' by Tony Kevin

Return to Moscow

by Tony Kevin

UWA Publishing $29.99 pb, 332 pp, 9781742589299

The idea that the world faces a second Cold War started out as hyperbole, but by 2016 it was sounding increasingly plausible. For more than a decade, Moscow, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, had been waging a diplomatic, political, and military campaign to restore Russian power – in the Caucasus, in Ukraine, and in Syria. In the West this has usually been portrayed as unprovoked aggression, but Tony Kevin takes the opposing view. It is the West, he argues, which has behaved aggressively towards Moscow.

Kevin is a former Australian diplomat, regarded in Canberra policy circles as an ‘old lefty’. And not only does the argument of Return to Moscow recall those made by the left during the first Cold War, it is based on questions still open at the end of that conflict, crucially this one: was Moscow promised that NATO would not expand into eastern Europe?

If you believe that Putin’s behavior demands a robust Western response backed by military force, your answer to that question is ‘no’, or perhaps ‘that’s irrelevant’. But if you are Putin – or Tony Kevin – the answer is ‘yes’ and, rather than being some arcane historical detail, the issue determines your entire outlook. This is the sort of disagreement that starts European wars.

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Published in March 2017, no. 389
Nicholas Hordern

Nicholas Hordern

Nick Hordern took an Arts degree at the University of Sydney, concentrating on Indian history and Islamic studies, before joining the Department of Foreign Affairs. As well as postings in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, his public service career included stints in the Office of National Assessments and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. For five years he worked in Parliament House Canberra as a political staffer and journalist, then for fifteen years he was an editor and senior writer with the Australian Financial Review in Sydney. He now lives on the South Coast of New South Wales.

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