The fall of the Iron Curtain is often described as a sudden, unexpected event. The following years during the 1990s saw both a major expansion of NATO eastwards and the geographical retreat of Russia from areas previously seen as within its sphere of influence. This included Czechoslovakia, which switched from being a member of the Eastern Bloc’s Warsaw Pact to full NATO member (as the Czech Republic and Slovakia) in a space of ten years. To find out more about how this exactly came about and what could have been, I spoke to Cold War historian Sergei Radchenko, professor of International Relations at Cardiff University. I began by asking him about the US and Soviet expectations of where the former Soviet satellites in Central Europe would align immediately after the fall of Communist regimes in 1989.

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