There is a cynicism in the relationship between Russia and the US, being played out in the Crimean crisis, which is deep, rooted in history and shows that the triumph of capitalism over communism wasn’t the end of the power game between these two nations.
The depth of mistrust between the two was highlighted in the interview given by Hank Paulson, the former US treasury secretary, for my recent BBC Two documentary, How China Fooled The World.
The excerpts I am about to quote never made it into the film, because they weren’t relevant to it. But they give a fascinating understanding of the complex relationship between Washington and Moscow.
Mr Paulson was talking about the financial crisis of the autumn of 2008, and in particular the devastation being wreaked on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two huge underwriters of American mortgages – huge financial institutions that had a funny status at the time of being seen by investors to be the liability of the US government, which in legal reality were not exactly that.
Here is Mr Paulson on the unfolding drama:
“When Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac started to become unglued, and you know there were $5.4tn of securities relating to Fannie and Freddie, $1.7tn outside of the US. The Chinese were the biggest external investor holding Fannie and Freddie securities, so the Chinese were very, very concerned.”