Over the past month as tensions have mounted between the United States and Russia, one thing has stood out in my mind. I conducted more than 20 arms control inspections across the former Soviet Union, Central Asia, and Europe, working alongside NATO partner military members as well as members from Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. At the conclusion of all those missions, there was always a dinner between the two teams, usually with a spread fit for a king and plenty of toasts (the people of the former Soviet states love to make toasts, and they are masters of putting together words for such events; we had to train for this practice, both in building up our alcohol tolerance, but also in order to pronounce our own toasts, as one side will make a toast, then the next, beginning with the highest ranking and proceeding to the lowest ranking). The first toast would usually be to the conclusion of the mission, and in good Soviet fashion, the second would be announced with a quick statement of “between the first and second, a bullet should not pass”. The third, depending on the company, would either be to the fallen or to women. And eventually, before the night was done, a toast would be made that those collected at the table should never meet one another on opposite sides of the battlefield. Often times, this toast would be preceded by words of how there is a brotherhood of military men. No matter what country we serve, we have in common that we have all taken on the duty to serve the people of our country. That we have put aside our own lives in order to answer the call of service, and that takes a special kind of person – that no matter what uniform or flag we wear, we are all cut from the same cloth, and therefore are a part of this brotherhood. And that is what comes to mind as our two nations stand on the precipice of war – all of those toasts done that we might not end up on opposite sides of the battlefield.