@Andrew Van Wagner posted:
I used my Russian in numerous countries when assessing Soviet diplomats for potential defection, but I never actually went to the USSR, although I visited post-USSR Russia after I’d retired.
Hi, Andrew—Both tenses (the simple past or the past perfect) are correct there. The past perfect is simply unnecessary, because "after" communicates that the the speaker's visiting of post-USSR Russia happend after the thing in the "after"-clause (the speaker's retiring).
Similarly, the past perfect is unnecessary in "I had retired before I visited post-USSR Russia." We can simply say, "I retired before I visited post-USSR Russia, because "before" communicates that the speaker's retiring happened before the thing in the "before"-clause (the speaker's visiting of post-USSR Russia).