What Would Have Happened if Russia Joined NATO in 2000?
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In 2000, Vladimir Putin, then the acting Russian president, 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.”
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He went on to say that Russia is “part of European culture.” He said it is “difficult to imagine NATO “as an enemy.”
Of course it is impossible to determine Putin’s sincerity at the time, but on 22 February — just two days before Russia invaded Ukraine over, in part, NATO’s expansion — Putin acknowledged for the first time in a video address 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 immediately respond to the Trends Journal 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.
George Robertson, a former U.K. Labour defense secretary who led NATO from 1999 to 2003, said in The Guardian that Putin made it clear that he wanted Russia to join the alliance, but did not want Russia to have to wait in line.
“Putin said: ‘When are you going to invite us to join Nato?’ And [Robertson] said: ‘Well, we don’t invite people to join NATO, they apply to join NATO.’ And he said: ‘Well, we’re not standing in line with a lot of countries that don’t matter,’” Robertson said.
Gregory Simons, an associate professor at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University, said the West thought that it “had won the Cold War and could dictate all the terms as Russia was 'beaten.’”
“They were high on the euphoria of a perceived victory rather than a massive opportunity for peace and security,” he told TRTWorld.com. “They did not regard Russia as an equal and probably thought to use the idea of membership as a means of compliance. Like the EU has done to Turkey for years.”
The report said James Baker, the former U.S. secretary of state, who was believed to have assured Gorbachev that NATO would not move “one inch eastward” from Germany, called a Russian membership at NATO a win-win situation for both sides.
TREND FORECAST: The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming! The Cold War, launched immediately after World War II, paused, but never ended.
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And while the western media continues to report on the German horrors of the Holocaust which killed over 6 million Jewish civilians, Adolph Hitler’s “Operation Barbarossa” was launched against the Soviet Union 80 years ago today, costing the lives of some 30 million people on the Eastern Front.
Yet, these Nazi horrors have been brainwashed out of society, masked by the Cold War and the Iron Curtain that separated Eastern Europe and Russia from the west.