The Berlin Wall fell, but the Kremlin threat never went away
The common resolve of the West helped to bring down the USSR, but there is no unity over Russia now
Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall precipitated the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europeans will celebrate the anniversary of that seismic event in the knowledge that it did not, in fact, mark the end of the Kremlin’s malign influence over their lives.
I remember vividly the scenes of jubilation I witnessed back in 1989 when I travelled the length of the Iron Curtain – from the grandeur of Trieste in the Adriatic to the run-down port of Stettin in the Baltic – as the Soviet era met its inglorious end.
In Hungary, where the desire for democracy had prompted Moscow’s brutal suppression of the 1956 uprising, I found peasant women toasting Moscow’s demise by drinking pints of foaming local beer with their breakfast. A few days later I attended a rally in Bratislava, in what was then Czechoslovakia, to witness the wild scenes of celebration that erupted as Alexander Dubcek, the inspiration of the anti-Soviet Prague Spring in 1968, made his first public appearance in more than two decades...