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About Rodric Braithwaite

Rodric Braithwaite is a British diplomat and author. From 1988 to 1992, Braithwaite served as British ambassador in Moscow, and is the author of Across the Moscow River: The World Turned Upside Down, Moscow 1941: A City and Its People at War and Afgantsy.

Articles by Rodric Braithwaite

This week’s front page editor


Adam Bychawski is an editorial assistant at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The uses and abuses of history


History is nowadays not only written by the victors, but by anybody who wants to use history for their own ends.


Book review: Samuel Greene, 'Moscow in Movement: Power and Opposition in Putin’s Russia'

Cover_Greene_Russia_0.pngRussians pride themselves on their capacity for state-building, but their idea of the state is not one that the West would recognise, or was hoping for…



Review: Serhii Plokhy, 'The Last Empire'

When the Soviet Empire collapsed, Ukraine was the key.



Blood and treasure

Can an invasion of Afghanistan ever be considered to be a mission accomplished? The British in the 19th century, the Soviets in the 20th and now 21st century ISAF is pulling out its troops. What have they achieved and what is likely to happen afterwards?

The Potemkin village is inhabited

The Valdai Conference was held on 16-19 September 2013 at a Potemkin village halfway between Moscow and St Petersburg. Vladimir Putin was holding court with a select group of invited guests, eager to hear him talk about “Russia’s Diversity for the Modern World.” Rodric Braithwaite makes sense of it.

The dog days of the Soviet Union (3): the plot fails

The 1991 coup attempt completely disintegrates with the tragic deaths of three young men and the continuing irresistible rise of Boris Yeltsin. openDemocracy Russia presents the last 2 entries of Rodric Braithwaite’s diary.

The dog days of the Soviet Union (2): the plot thickens

The (unsuccessful) coup d’état in August 1991 eventually brought about the end of the USSR. As British Ambassador, Rodric Braithwaite was in the thick of the rapidly developing situation and kept a diary. Yesterday we published his entries for the initial days of the coup. In today’s entries the plot thickens and starts unravelling. Photos: Jo Schwartz (

The dog days of the Soviet Union: the coup

The (unsuccessful) coup d’état in August 1991 eventually brought about the end of the USSR. Rodric Braithwaite was British Ambassador at the time. He kept a diary and has kindly allowed openDemocracy Russia to publish the entries for those eventful 5 days.

The Russians in Afghanistan: part II

In the second part of exclusive extracts from "Afgantsy", Rodric Braithwaite focuses on the soldiers who served in Afghanistan: their music, the dead, the wounded and the ambiguous reaction of their compatriots on their return. Most soldiers found adapting to life back home immensely difficult; some would later nostalgically reflect on their Afghan years as the best of their life.

The Russians in Afghanistan: part I

The Russian experience in Afghanistan is not a simple story. Far from being the imperialist expansion it is sometimes caricatured to be, the Russians stumbled into Afghanistan reluctantly, beset by ideological neuroses, incomplete intelligence, conflicting advice and the pressure of events. oDR is pleased to present the first part of exclusive extracts from Rodric Braithwaite’s “Afgantsy”

Dedovshchina: bullying in the Russian Army

While bullying (see our Soldier’s Tales) is common to all armies, the aberration that is dedovshchina in Russia’s army has a specific history and causes, argues Rodric Braithwaite. Military reform is needed to root it out.

Russia, Poland and the history wars

On the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Army's invasion of Poland, Rodric Braithwaite understands why Poles are not quick to give the Russians credit for occasionally getting things right. The end of communism would not have been possible without Mikhail Gorbachev and the Russians made impressive efforts in the 1980s and 1990s to establish an objective record of their own history.
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