The Time of Grand Masters Has Passed*

*Editor’s note: On March 4, 2022, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.

Vice Rector of Russian Foreign Ministry Diplomatic Academy Oleg Karpovich — on the topic of why modern Western politicians should not forget the heritage of Henry Kissinger.

Throughout the day on Nov. 30, neither the White House nor the U.S. Department of State bothered to offer an official statement about the death of Henry Kissinger, one of the brightest and most outstanding American politicians of the 20th century. This fact alone clearly shows that the titans of the Western establishment have been replaced by mere pygmies with opportunistic mindsets who are unable to show respect and tactfulness, not only toward their opponents, but also toward their own history and the departed great figures of their own countries.

It’s symbolic that the sorrowful news came on the day when the Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was held. Half a century ago, it was Kissinger — with Andrei Gromyko and other outstanding diplomats — who was behind the signing of the Helsinki Accords, conceived as a cornerstone of the European security system and which signified the beginning of this organization’s existence.

The multilevel, very complex talks conducted back then between the Soviet, American and European virtuosi of the art of diplomacy can still be studied today as the most vivid example of a successful search for complex geopolitical compromise. The fruits of that work, one way or another, were relevant for many decades to come, but ended up being crushed by the modern representatives of the Western establishment, whose pettiness and narrow-mindedness show themselves clearly in their every step.

Let’s simply consider the scandalous episode (clearly coordinated by the U.S.) of Bulgaria’s arrogant flight ban of the plane with the Russian delegation en route to Skopje — under the pretext that Maria Zakharova was on board. She was the official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. It would be impossible to imagine such indecent — to say the least — behavior during the Kissinger era. Government figures from any level would never have stooped so low as to engage in juvenile antics, but instead focused on long-term strategic work. But the time of grand masters has passed. The era of political minors has come.

Of course, it’s hardly possible to definitely call the late ex-secretary of state a friend of our country. He was a patriot of the U.S., a wise, delicate, deep politician, but an opponent of Moscow who nonetheless was able to find common ground and devise the most complex combinations on the global chessboard, considering the interests of all key players. His deepest knowledge of history and philosophy allowed him to view international processes, not through a prism of transitory conditions, but rather in the context of the general paradigm of global development.

Kissinger, undoubtedly, was also a cynic who turned a blind eye to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Cambodia, Chile, Bangladesh and other parts of the world. But in the process of building relations with Moscow and Beijing, his ability to leave emotions and personal views aside while focusing on such fateful questions as stopping the arms race and lowering the risk of a nuclear conflict became key. He remained consistent and principled in his approaches, and even after retiring and becoming a private consultant, a scholar and an informal emissary, he was still guided by U.S. national interests — but only within the context of maintaining a balanced and sustainable world order.

In these last years, in the era of figures who bring shame to the profession of the diplomat, such as Annalena Baerbock, Chrystia Freeland and Liz Truss, I would like to wish that aspiring Western politicians not mimic these and other performers of the Euro-Atlantic political circus, but rather draw from the lessons laid down in the works and articles of Kissinger and other representatives of the school of realpolitik.

I would want to believe that, sooner or later, the current darkness will fall and clear the stage for the pragmatic view of potential successors of the master of the Big Game, who has now left us. And, as in the 1970s, we will be able to return to a constructive and meaningful dialogue. But to implement this scenario, Russia has to finish its special military operation and solve all the tasks outlined by our president, teaching a proper lesson to all those liberal-imperialists who wish to break Russia. Only, in that case, the Kissingers of the future will once more gain the right to vote in the Western corridors of power and knock on our door.

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About Artem Belov 83 Articles
Artem Belov is a TESOL-certified English teacher and a freelance translator (Russian>English and English>Russian) based in Australia but currently traveling abroad. He is working on a number of projects, including game localization. You can reach him at

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