U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn was at a conference in Hungary when a coup d’etat toppled Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the summer of 1991. A Soviet contact called him. “You’ve got to get over here,” Nunn was told. “Big things are happening; great opportunities and huge dangers.”
Once in Moscow, Nunn would spend half a day milling around the Russian White House where Boris Yeltsin had made his stand. In the Duma, Nunn sat for two days in the gallery and watched the debate that would bring about the collapse of the Soviet Union, a stunning turn of events that, literally, no one saw coming.