The Nation: Dealing with the Russian Leaders

Washington's master Kremlinologist looks back

William Hyland calls himself a "faceless bureaucrat." But one of the few warm moments during Cyrus Vance's otherwise chilly visit to Moscow last March came when Soviet Party Chief Leonid Brezhnev recognized Hyland, a senior staff member of the National Security Council, as the only familiar face on the other side of the negotiating table. Brezhnev and his comrades had been dealing with Hyland since 1969, and Hyland had been scrutinizing the Soviet leadership for 15 years before that. His career as a Kremlinologist has spanned six administrations and carried him to the upper echelons of the...

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