A couple of years before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Reagan administration struck a NATO deal with Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to facilitate the reunification of Germany. Eastern Germany, under Russian control, was to be permitted to reunite with their folks in Western Germany. The deal facilitated the historic breaking down of the Berlin Wall.
This was the opinion, derivable from historical facts, expressed by an analyst, in a Facebook post.
Gorbachev was assured by James Baker, Reagan ‘s chief of staff and secretary of state under George Bush Snr., an-inch towards Russia if he took down the Berlin Wall.
NATO honoured this agreement for 12 years – 8 years under George Bush Snr and 4 years under Bill Clinton. During the second term of President Bill Clinton, the United States acted in unison with other NATO leaders to jettison the agreement.
In 1996, a decision was taken to move NATO eastwards, drawing in Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary were admitted into the alliance. The encroachment toward Russia drew the ire of the military giant and marked the beginning of the second phase of hostilities between Russia and the West; and the start of the new arms race.
Russia, which had remained quiet, felt humiliated by the absorption, by NATO, of the former Soviet states. Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin had, during a speech, expressed concerns about being treated by the United States like they did Haiti, warning that Russia will come back.
A couple of years afterwards, NATO had reigned in strength and supremacy, and had even bombarded some allies of Russia. Still, Russia posed no challenge. Perhaps, Russia, then, was in a position of weakness.
Then, came year 2000. Vladimir Putin is elected Russian president. One of the first things he did was to apply for Russia to join NATO. His reason was that NATO was created to counter the threat of the Warsaw Pact. But since the Warsaw Pact no longer existed, he had reasoned that Russia should join the rest of Europe to work for a peaceful and more prosperous Europe.
Putin had desired to forge some sort of military partnership with NATO and the European Union, EU, but was rebuffed. It was said that Russia was too big to be part of the EU.
In February 2007 at the G20 meeting, after NATO had announced plans to enlarge the alliance further towards Russia, Vladimir Putin made a speech, wherein he stated the following.
“I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernization of the alliance itself, or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask – against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurance our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today?
No one remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind the audience what was said by NATO General Secretary Mr. Manfred Wörner in 1990- “The fact that we are not ready to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.” Where are these guarantees? Putin asked the G20.
The NATO response was yes, you are right, but those were guarantees given to the Soviet Union, not Russia. An answer that was quite disingenuous. It was like saying – yes, we made a promise to your father not to threaten his household but since he is dead, we are no longer bound by that promise.
In a latter speech, Putin said that his suspicions about whether the US still pursues the secret policies of the Wolfowitz Strategy, has been confirmed. (Wolfowitz Strategy, New York Times, 1992).
The Wolfowitz Strategy, which was developed by Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defence, was a secret strategy by the US after the Cold War to ensure that no nation will acquire the power, economic or military, to challenge US hegemony. It states that the US must remain the lone superpower. It even goes further to insist that US allies must not develop their own nuclear capabilities but must leave that to the US to do it for them. The strategy also specifically mentioned Russia and insisted that the US must do everything in its power to ensure Russia does not become strong enough to challenge it.
When the report of the Wolfowitz Strategy was leaked by the New York Times in 1992, there was outcry around the world. Many leaders decried it an as imperialist doctrine and the Bush (Snr) administration said that it had withdrawn that strategy. This alone confirmed that there was such a strategy.
However, the US foreign policy since 1992 shows clearly that the Wolfowitz Strategy is still very much US foreign policy. Any country that is not a US ally that attempts to pull itself up militarily is invaded and destroyed.
That was what Putin meant when he said that his suspicions about the Wolfowitz Strategy has been confirmed. And since Putin made that speech, NATO and the US have inched closer and closer to Russia’s borders.
Now, the United States needs Ukraine so that it can gain a short-range firing leverage against Russia. Or, so Russia believes.
In 1962, the Soviet Union and Cuba, in a joint military exercise, agreed to station missiles in Cuba. When the US found out, it threatened to sink the Soviet war ships and start World War III, if the Soviet Union went ahead to station missiles in Cuba.
Why? Because it was a threat to US security. You can’t have your enemy leaning over the wall of your neighbor’s house to aim a gun at your head. The US was right in saying no. But ironically, that is the same thing they want to do with Ukraine.
Since year 2000, NATO has inched closer and closer and now they are at Russia’s doorstep- Ukraine.
So, if you were the Russian president, what would you do?
In a related manner, if and when Ukraine yields to Russia by force, could China be encouraged to seek to reclaim lost ground in Taiwan?
Our world is, perhaps, headed for a spin of the dominions.