Special Forum

When commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in the months ahead, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will find it difficult to recapture the spirit exhibited in 2015 when they stood together in Red Square and then in Tiananmen to proclaim shared support for a world order they insisted was established through that victory and had not been overturned by the way the Cold War had ended. 1945 has significance as the crowning glory of the Soviet system now separable from its communist trappings and the steppingstone to the communist revolution in China, being venerated anew. However, its meaning cannot be disassociated from today’s narratives about what happened in 1991, two-thirds along the pathway to the present. 1991 was a watershed leading to Moscow and Beijing drawing closer together as they responded to the way a triumphant United States interpreted the end of the Cold War as overturning the order they regarded as ensuring their national status and identities. Yet it also carried the seeds of a divide over how to view the post-cold war era, including its signature event—the Soviet collapse.     

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