July 01, 2021

Two Days

Two days before this issue went to press, I watched The Courier, a thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel Brosnahan, based on the real-life story of the well-known spy Oleg Penkovsky and the little-known courier (who was a businessman, not a spy), Greville Wynne, who helped him get his secrets out to the West. It is a gripping, well-produced movie (with real Russian spoken and the Georgian actor Merab Ninidze doing a fine job as Penkovsky), and notable for making the case that Penkovsky’s betrayal of the USSR and Wynne’s unexpected courage may have helped keep the Cuban Missile Crisis from getting out of hand.

Two days after I am sending this column and this issue off to the printer, the current US and Russian presidents are convening in Geneva for their first summit meeting. It is only the fifth such summit since 2000.

While June 2021 is not October 1962, it is safe to say that the level of “good feelings” between the US an Russia have fallen to their lowest level since the end of the Cold War.

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