Anatoly Dobrynin, one of the twentieth century’s great diplomatists, has died.
He was a legendary figure, who held the key post of Soviet ambassador to Washington for a record 24 years – from 1962 to 1986. He was a frequent guest at the White House and the constant interlocutor of another of the century’s great diplomatists, Henry Kissinger, who, happily, is still with us. No other foreign ambassador, neither before nor after Dobrynin, has ever had such influence in Washington.
Dobrynin’s greatest achievements, however, were connected not to Washington, but to Moscow. Not his brief period as secretary of the Gorbachev-era Party Central Committee, but his successful efforts to prepare the soil for Soviet-American détente of the Brezhnev years. Through his telegrams from Washington and, even more so, through his personal conversations in Moscow, he managed to convince Politburo members to “give peace a chance.” Anatoly Dobrynin can take a lot of credit for the fact that the Cold War remained just that – “cold.” He has left our midst to take his place in history.