Not so long ago, it was all very different. In the early years after the Cold War ended and Russia claimed its independence, London and Moscow made a genuine effort both to cooperate across the board and to bring a new tone to that cooperation. I helped draft the new treaty signed in 1992 by Prime Minister John Major and Russia’s President Yeltsin proclaiming bilateral peace and friendship:This fragment summarizes succintly the type of thinking prevalent in the West regarding relations with Russia. However, the Cold War has not ended. Deception in the communist countries of Eastern Europe, including Russia, continued, entering a new stage: the simulation of democracy and seemingly friendly relations with the West.
"The Parties shall develop their relations in good faith. They declare their commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, to an open society, to democratic principles and respect for human rights and the rule of law…"
Russian and Western diplomats sat together around the world, closely coordinating positions on the Balkan imbroglio and other policy hotspots. Everyone listened to everyone else and tried to hammer out good joint positions. Things were, for most practical purposes, normal.
Using technical language one may say that Western observers of Eastern Europe were unable to disntinguish between the signal and the noise.
At the end of 1980s the Communists pretended that they lost control of the situation, gave up power and made a transition to democracy. This has taken Western experts completely by surprise. There were no signs that Communism in Eastern Europe would fall apart so suddenly and so easily. The West joyfully declared that the countries of NATO won the Cold War despite the lack of a credible explanation how it really happened.
The situation at the threshold of 1980s/1990s was symbolized by the phrase used by Francis Fukuyama in the title of his book "The End of History" (the full title is "The End of History and the Last Man") in 1993.
It is useful in this context to remind of the following quote from The Red Sword, newspaper of VCheKa troops in Bolshevik Russia:
We do not have and cannot have old foundations of moral and "humanism", invented by the bourgeoisie . . . We are allowed to do anything.