At the end of the Second World War, about 600,000 Japanese soldiers were taken prisoner after the Soviet Union swept through Manchuria in the very final days of the war. Instead of returning them to Japan, the Soviet Union held them in prison camps in the Russian Far East for over a decade. The last group was released in 1956, eleven years after the Japanese surrender.

Kazakhstan, like Ukraine and Belarus, temporarily became a potential nuclear weapons power after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviets had deployed 104 SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) containing more than 1400 nuclear warheads in the Kazakh steppe. These were the largest and most threatening land-based Soviet nuclear weapons, and their future control was uncertain in the wake of the Soviet collapse. Togzhan Kassenova, a senior fellow at the University of Albany, a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a native Kazakh whose father was head of Kazakhstan’s Center for Strategic Studies at the time, tells the story of the diplomatic minuet between Kazakhstan, Russia, and the United States in the early- and mid-1990s that resulted in Kazakhstan’s surrender of any claim over those weapons in her new and timely book Atomic Steppe

Sergei Tretyakov is on something of a roll. The Soviet writer has featured in several recent books, including a new translation of (among other plays) Roar, China!, a new biography and a study of the Soviet-led drive for a “Leftist Literary Commons”. He also is a main character, arguably the protagonist, in Edward Tyerman’s Internationalist Aesthetics: China and Early Soviet Culture. China loomed large, both politically and culturally, in early Soviet thinking; this renewed attention coincides with today’s ever-closer Sino-Russian relations.

The border between Russia and China is one of the world’s longest, spanning thousands of miles. It’s one of the few extended land borders between two great powers, subject to years of history, conflict and cooperation. Yet for such an important division, there are surprisingly few crossings, with not one passenger bridge in operation.

On 9 August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki and three Soviet armies invaded imperial Japan’s puppet state of Manchukuo. Six days later, Emperor Hirohito’s recorded broadcast to the Japanese people told them that the end of the war had arrived. Most Japanese troops in Manchukuo surrendered or withdrew by August 19. The fate of 2.7 million Japanese soldiers and citizens in the former Manchurian colony would be determined by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.