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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

DECEMBER 2016

27

This tour d’horizon from the fall of the Soviet Union to today—including hopes,

disappointments and missed opportunities—puts U.S.-Russia relations into perspective.

THE RISE

OF THE NEW RUSSIA

BY LOU I S D. SE L L

During a 27-year career with the State Department, retired

FSO Louis Sell served for many years in the former Soviet

Union, Russia and Yugoslavia. He was also U.S. represen-

tative to the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna, director

of the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis, and executive secretary

of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks. From

1995 to 1996, he served as political adviser to Carl Bildt, the first High

Representative for Bosnian Peace Implementation. In 2000 he served as

Kosovo Director of the International Crisis Group. As executive director

of the American University in Kosovo Foundation from 2003 to 2008,

he helped found the American University in Kosovo. He is the author of

FromWashington to Moscow: U.S.-Soviet Relations and the Collapse

of the USSR

(Duke University Press, 2016) and S

lobodan Milosevic and

the Destruction of Yugoslavia

(Duke University Press, 2002). Mr. Sell is

now an adjunct professor at the University of Maine at Farmington and

lives on a farm in Whitefield, Maine.

V

ladimir Putin famously described

the collapse of the USSR as “the

biggest geopolitical tragedy of

the [20th] century”—quite a

claim when one considers the

competition: two world wars and

the Holocaust, for starters. But

the Russian president’s remark

illustrates why it is impossible

to understand Putin and the country he leads without also

understanding how Russians view the collapse of the USSR

and its aftermath.

ON RUSSIA

FOCUS