Discover more from Trends Journal
Gorbachev's Death Reminds West of Missed Opportunity With Russia
NATO expansion loomed large in Russia's decision to invade Ukraine
The Western media has been in lockstep with the coverage of the Ukraine War. Most ledes in these stories identify the war as “unprovoked” and, when propaganda is on full display, identify the conflict as “Putin’s war.”
Readers of The Trends Journal understand that the conflict is much more nuanced than is being reported. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who made a fortune working with defense contractors when he’s not in politics, failed to recognize Russia’s legitimate security concerns about NATO expansion in Ukraine. Russia saw the West’s military relationship with Ukraine as an existential threat and was willing to go to war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his Victory Parade speech to mark the occasion, once again blamed the U.S. and NATO for their aggression prior to the invasion.
“We saw how the military infrastructure was unfolding, how hundreds of foreign advisers had begun to work there, with the most modern weapons being regularly delivered from NATO countries," he said. "The danger was growing every day. Russia offered a pre-emptive rebuff to the aggression—this was a forced, timely move and the only correct decision, one taken by a strong and independent country."
The funeral for Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, was held on Saturday and was not attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin. (The New York Times reported that Putin visited Gorbachev’s coffin on Thursday “bowed and crossed himself at the open coffin.”)
Putin said in 2005 that the break-up of the Soviet Union was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the [20th] Century."
Five years before Putin made that comment, he sat down for an interview with the BBC and floated the idea of Russia joining NATO.
“Why not? Why not?” Putin said, according to The Washington Post at the time. “I do not rule out such a possibility…in the case that Russia’s interests will be reckoned with, if it will be an equal partner.”
He went on to say that Russia is “part of European culture.” He said it is “difficult to imagine NATO “as an enemy.”
Putin acknowledged for the first time in a video address earlier this year that he inquired about NATO membership with then-President Bill Clinton during his U.S. counterpart’s visit to Moscow. Putin said he asked how a Russian membership would go over in the U.S.
“I would not give you all the details of that conversation,” Putin said. “But the reaction to my conversation -- look, well, let me put it this way. How did Americans really look at this possibility? You can see it in their practical stance. Open support of the terrorists in North Caucusus, ignoring our demands and concerns, withdrawing from the arms limitation treaties, and so on.”
Clinton did not respond to the Trends Journal at the time for comment.
There’s another video floating around on YouTube that shows Vladimir Pozner Jr., the French-born Russian-American journalist, addressing Yale University and mentioning how Putin’s NATO ambitions were refused by the alliance.
Pozner said one of the first things Putin did was ask for Russia to become a member.
“Why not be a member of NATO? NATO was created to defend Europe and perhaps not only Europe from Soviet aggression, from a country that you couldn’t predict. There is no more Soviet Union, and there is no more Warsaw Pact. Why can’t we create an organization where we are part of it, said Mr. Putin, and act together to protect from some kind of aggression. He was told, ‘Go take a walk,’ basically,” Pozner said.
As detailed in The Los Angeles Times back in May of 2016, while the U.S. and NATO deny that no such agreement was struck, “...hundreds of memos, meeting minutes and transcripts from U.S. archives indicate otherwise.”
The article states:
“According to transcripts of meetings in Moscow on Feb. 9, then-Secretary of State James Baker suggested that in exchange for cooperation with Germany, the U.S. could make ‘iron-clad guarantees’ that NATO would not expand ‘one inch eastward.’ Less than a week later, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to begin reunification talks.
“No formal deal was struck, but from all the evidence, the quid pro quo was clear: Gorbachev acceded to Germany’s western alignment and the U.S. would limit NATO’s expansion.”
The Gorbachev Foundation’s record of the Soviet leader’s meeting with James Baker in 1990 supported Gorbachev’s claim that NATO would not continue to expand.
Baker: I want to ask you a question, and you need not answer it right now. Supposing unification takes place, what would you prefer: a united Germany outside of NATO, absolutely independent and without American troops; or a united Germany keeping its connections with NATO, but with the guarantee that NATO’s jurisprudence or troops will not spread east of the present boundary?
Gorbachev: We will think everything over. We intend to discuss all these questions in depth at the leadership level. It goes without saying that a broadening of the NATO zone is not acceptable.Baker:
Baker: We agree with that.