When the Soviet Union collapsed on 26 December 1991, it looked like the start of a remarkable new time of peace and co-operation. Peter Conradi argues that we have consistently failed to understand Russia and its motives. In doing so, we have made a powerful enemy. Peter witnessed the USSR’s collapse first-hand as foreign correspondent in Moscow. Peter Conradi is foreign editor of The Sunday Times. He co-authored The King’s Speech, which inspired the Oscar-winning film.Part of my trouble with the pervasive Russia-the-enemy meme dates back to June 20th last year when Wales played them in the Euros.
We beat them three nil, but - more significantly in this context - there were no incidents at all of trouble between fans before, during or after the game. This after the press had tried to terrify us with tales of paramilitary, neo-fascist ultras; the Russian hooligans who had apparently clashed with England fans in Lille.
Secondly, although the competition's draw mandated that Wales should wear their away kit, the Russian FA agreed to wear their white away strip to allow us to play in our sentimentally important red jerseys. A small thing you might think. but a very sporting gesture in my eyes, and one that I couldn't imagine many other international sides making.
It doesn't sound like they are maniacs to me.