We are entering a Second Cold War with Russia. This November’s Remembrance ceremonies, on the centenary of Armistice Day, did nothing to resolve a recurrent problem. We celebrate, analyse and reflect on victory in war yet fail to learn that its aftermath is crucial for future peace. The Second World War is commonly viewed as the long term consequence of punishing Prussian militarism in 1919 through beggaring Germany. The tragic disintegration of Iraq opening the way for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to project their power, the rise of Da’esh, and the massive toll of civilian casualties, were a result of misguided policies during the early stages of the US occupation. The aftermath of the West’s victory in the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet Union, brought its own foreign policy mistakes. At first Clinton got on well with Yeltsin. Then in the late 1990s, Blair and Clinton established a good working relationship with Yeltsin’s surprise choice as successor, Vladimir Putin, a man initially ill at ease with great political power. But this transient bonhomie left Russia prey to the financial experts from Chicago who rushed in with economic policies that soon left Russia more impoverished and chaotic. Most Russians understandably put their impoverishment down to intervention from the West. Russian oligarchs hoovered up underpriced State companies to become billionaires. The Anglo-American financier Bill Browder in his book, Red Notice, explains how in 21st century Russia you could get very rich, and very dead, very quickly. Russia became a kleptocracy. The victorious West never quite grasped the depth of Russian fears during much of the Cold War though it became apparent that the Soviet regime had dreaded a US nuclear first strike. Hardly surprisingly since the USA consistently lied about its nuclear strategy. Russia lost its empire, transformed into a fraying and fractious Russian Federation of States. Most of these States experienced the period 1993-1997 as liberating: national sovereignty regained along with their identity as European, under the protection of the NATO umbrella. The latter was unacceptable to the Russian military. NATO’s bombing of Serbia, and Blair’s support for Kosovo against Putin’s Slav soulmates, left Russia’s military and intelligence services worried, humiliated, and determined to re-assert Russia’s importance on the global stage. The presence of Russian-speaking minorities in Russia’s “near abroad”, blizhneye zarubezhye, echoed that of the German populations beyond the Nazi Fatherland in the 1930s. Russia and Putin could live with the Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia going their own way – they were relatively recent acquisitions. Chechnya, brought into the Tsarist Empire by force in the 1850s, was a different matter. Georgia and Ukraine were an ectopic growth of Russia’s political soul, both geographically and psychologically comparable in some ways in potential for conflict to Northern Ireland for the UK. US foreign policy provoked reaction by showing scant concern for these sensitivities. By 2008, Putin was looking across the border to Georgia with growing concern at flamboyant Mikheil Saakashvili and his nationalist government. Saakashvili was enamored of all things EU and NATO. Top US State Department officials were in and out of Tbilisi dispensing the political equivalent of wet kisses. Two regions of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia, were in breakaway mode. The Russians put in their tanks. The US restrained Saakavili. A major war was averted. Russia’s historic memory matters. Ukraine’s history was complex. Catherine the Great had annexed Crimea in the 1780s. Nikita Khrushchev handed over the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine in February 1954 – to get Ukrainian Communist Party support for re-election. In March 2014, Putin returned Crimea to Russia using minimal military force but, notably, with the welcoming acquiescence of most of its Russian speaking inhabitants. Intervention in eastern Ukraine, poorly disguised Russian troops supporting local militias, reduced it to civil war under de facto Russian control. Some 10,000 have been killed. Between these two flash points Russian naval power is being exerted to control access to the Sea of Azov. US past treatment of its own blizhneyhe zarubezhye , the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Contra War in Nicaragua, might have provided clues about Putin’s mind-set. There were intermittent attempts at improving relations with Russia, but the interests of the two countries in Europe were, and are, incompatible. Countries in Russia’s near abroad have a right to choose their political system and alliances. But the USA pushed its advantage, taking NATO up to the borders of a resentful, vanquished Empire. We are where we are today. Several leaders have observed that Putin often adopts the body language and manner of a surly and violent teenager. Intervention in Syria and the slaughter of large numbers of Syrians demonstrated Russia’s military capability. Putin got away, relatively, with murdering Litvinenko and spreading polonium across London. But international reaction to the bungled GRU Novichok killings in Salisbury almost certainly surprised him, despite his public insouciance, malice, and brazen contempt for the UK government. Putin now faces severe sanctions, an economy operating far below its potential, falling oil prices, and mounting opposition. But he retains the overwhelming support of a sentimental nationalist majority who share with the USA a passionate desire to make their country “great again”. And, if they care, are willing to discount the more loathsome features of an authoritarian leader. Russia has understood the potential of the communications revolution, successfully making soft power the necessary adjunct to hard power (new weapons, nuclear first strike capacity). Skill in disseminating fake-news, hacking and manipulation of divisive sentiment, have caught democracies on the back foot. These tactics are much more effective than the clunky propaganda of the former Soviet Union. They did not evoke an adequate policy response. So what is to be done now? Containment, both geographical and cyber, flexible sanctions, better analysis of Putin’s insecurities and thinking, certainly. But there is an instructive voice from a post-war era that needs heeding. Peter Conradi in his highly readable Who Lost Russia? OneWorld, 2018, quotes George Kennan from 1946: “Of one thing we may be sure: no great and enduring change in the spirit and practice of government in Russia will ever come about primarily through foreign inspiration or advice…such a change would have to flow from the initiatives and efforts of the Russians themselves”. And that will not happen painlessly.