The aggravation of relations between Russia and the West is often called unprecedented. However, despite all the tension and heat of passion in Russian-American and Russian-British relations, it is still wrong to compare the situation with the worst times of the Cold War. There are many examples of what tens of years ago Moscow and Washington stood on a much more dangerous line.
The expulsions of diplomats that followed the London case of Skripal had a strong impact on the public and politicians - in Russia, in the West.
Even our diplomats are perplexed. So, Russia's ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Saturday that he does not remember such attacks on the Russian Federation. And he added that I can not remember such a collapse of Russian-American relations from history. " And the head of Antonov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday went even further:
"They talk a lot about the Cold War, they say a lot about the situation worse than it was in the classic cold war, because then there were some rules, some decorations were observed. And now, in my opinion, our Western partners - I mean first of all the United Kingdom, the United States and several countries that blindly follow them - all the decency have been thrown out, resorting to outright lies, outright misinformation. We respond to this, in my opinion, calmly enough, coolly. "
As for our answer, Lavrov is right. However, there are questions about comparing the current situation with the Cold War. This comparison began in the West, and even before the Crimea. Our authorities, of course, reciprocate - that is, they also argue in the comparison categories "now" and "then." From the point of view of propaganda and information war on the external front, this is completely justified. But for ourselves, of course, we must separate rhetorical devices and reality.
And it is as follows: our current relations and confrontation with the West can not be considered worse than in the years of the Cold War. And that's why.
The Cold War began in 1946 and continued with a break to the middle of the 80. Of these forty years, seven years of detente are due to force - if we count it from President Nixon's visit to Moscow in 1972 until the end of 1979, when the US announced the boycott of the Moscow Olympics following the entry of our troops into Afghanistan. If the last Brezhnev-Reagan period of the Cold War took place at a time when both Lavrov and Antonov were already working in the Foreign Ministry, they found the early period of schoolchildren and students: in 1972, Lavrov graduated from MGIMO, and Antonov - a school. However, both from their own memory and from books, of course, they know what the relations of the USSR and the USA, the USSR and the West as a whole were in the first quarter of the century of the Cold War.
Of course, they were not constant balancing on the verge of a military conflict, because periodically they were a war, only through intermediaries. It was a confrontation, both ideological and geopolitical. The conflict was propagandistic and military.
Since 1946, there have been more and more conflict points between the USSR and the USA every year. If at first it was Europe, then Asia soon joined it. And in the 60-ies - Latin America and Africa. The USSR and the US fought among themselves first in Korea in 1950-1953, and then, from the middle of the 60, 10 years in Vietnam. Yes, in both cases the American army was confronted "only" by our advisers, pilots and anti-aircraft gunners - but that was more than enough. The Russians killed Americans, and Americans killed Russians. Now this is not, and even about Syria to say this would be an exaggeration.
In addition, several times during the years of the Cold War, we were on the verge of a full-fledged military conflict, up to the nuclear one. Berlin crisis 1961-th (when the Soviet and American tanks stood opposite each other in the divided capital of Germany), the Caribbean 1962-th (when nuclear weapons could actually be used) are only the most dangerous episodes.
From 67 and all years of detente, our confrontation in the Middle East was extremely dangerous - the USA supported Israel, and we are Arab countries. Two wars between them did not end with our conflict, but more than negatively affected the relations between Moscow and Washington. For example, the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 took place against the backdrop of the war in Vietnam - and, naturally, was perceived by everyone as another front of the American-Soviet conflict.
And by the beginning of 80, the whole world arena was viewed by the Americans as a battlefield with the Russians - from Nicaragua to Angola, from Afghanistan to Lebanon, from Cambodia to El Salvador. And these are only the places where the fighting was going on. And if we add something to where our intelligence and diplomats fought among themselves, then there would not be a living place on the world map at all.
Of course, even in the Cold War, there were glacial periods and usual winters. For example, the most dangerous was the first postwar decade - until 1955, when the first summit of the Soviet and Western leaders was held in Geneva. Before that, there was no such thing as a mechanism of interaction, but even dialogue, ordinary conversation. Not only at the highest level - in 1952 even the US ambassador from Moscow was deported.
The establishment of personal contacts between the Soviet (the "big three" came to Geneva - Khrushchev, Prime Minister Bulganin and Foreign Minister Molotov) and Western leaders (although they knew Eisenhower on 1945 when he came to Moscow as the commander-in-chief) was perceived as a huge breakthrough. However, four years passed before the next summit. And soon after it - after the first visit of our head to the US - everything again broke. The extremely dangerous 60 began - with Cuba, Vietnam and mutual accusations in an attempt to establish global domination.
After the supernova began 60-s Soviet-American confrontation went into the normal course, but it was more than a tough clinch. No talks between the heads of state after the year 1961 were not until 1967 (then the situation in the world so sharply deteriorated after the Arab-Israeli war, Prime Minister Kosygin flew to the emergency session of the UN in New York). The US took advantage of the opportunity, and in the suburbs of New York, Kosygin and President Johnson met. But then - five more years of lack of personal contacts.
This is not as it is now - then there were no telephone conversations, and foreign ministers met at best once a year. And if we add to this the fact that there was not even a more or less adequate representation of a friend about a friend ... Moreover, the US authorities understood the motives of the Kremlin's actions even worse than our leadership - the policy of the White House. Only in 70, in the course of detente, there was some kind of dialogue - so the most dangerous period was passed. Therefore, the resumption of a full-scale cold war in the 80 did not already carry such a clear threat to the world as a whole, neither the US nor the USSR.
Yes, rhetoric was pompous - "evil empire" and all that. But in reality, both sides wanted to return to the peaceful coexistence of 70-ies with their fierce competition around the world, but without the threat of an immediate military clash, and "without Vietnam," that is, war with the allies. If Gorbachev had not been so untalented in reforming the USSR, the relations of the two superpowers would have come to a long-term detente (with which, of course, at some point could break into a new cold war).
But that would be a completely different story. By the way, when Ambassador Antonov complained that he can not remember from history such a current collapse of Russian-American relations, he clearly has in mind the history of Russia, "young Russia" - which all seemed to appear only in 1991. But if we look at the relations of our countries in full retrospect (and they will soon be 250 years old, like the US itself), then we will see less severe falls and wreckages. A hundred years ago, Americans landed on our territory as potential invaders, and 72 a year ago we turned from the Allies into enemies.
So the current Russian-American relations will surely survive the "crisis" of the crisis with not the greatest losses. For four years of confrontation, we are already used to everything. Even to the fictional "Russian trail" in the election of Donald Trump, who does not prevent the chiefs of the general staffs of the armies of our countries from being in constant communication with Syria, and the two presidents - discussing the preparation of their meeting. There was nothing of the kind in the years of that old, real cold war - and not because the winters have become softer now.