Barometer of Superpowers

For 24 years Ambassador Anatoli Dobrynin ambled through the streets of Washington like a Russian bear who resembled your Uncle Ralph. There has never been anything quite like him in capital diplomacy. He survived Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko and Gorbachev. Sighs Soviet Expert William Hyland: "That's a major achievement in itself."

But Dobrynin, 66, now headed for the top ranks of Moscow's ruling elite, was both the front and back door of superpower confrontations. As dean of the diplomatic corps, he stood shoulder to shoulder with U.S. Presidents to greet visiting heads of state at...

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