Monday, January 24, 2022

Russian Saber Rattling over NATO?

All this talk of war with Russia and Ukraine is the last thing we need.  With climate change and coronavirus we need more cooperation not more death and destruction.  Katrina vanden Heuvel of the Nation magazine gives a good review of the history behind this standoff. 


It started at the end of the cold war in 1990.  In return for dissolving the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc in Eastern Europe and allowing Germany to reunify, Gorbachev was promised by George HW Bush that NATO (the western military alliance formed after WWII) would not be expanded eastward toward Russia's border.

This promise was broken when Clinton took office as can be seen in the above map.  Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary were admitted to NATO in 1999.  This continued under Bush, Obama, and Trump right up to Russia's borders with the admission of Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) and other former Iron Curtain state.  Any possible addition of Ukraine into NATO is totally unacceptable for Russia.

With Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, they were excluded from G8 summit of economic powers.  They also received many other economic sanctions including their athletes not being allowed to compete in the Olympics under their flag.  With Russia's history of paranoia of foreign invaders from the Mongols to Hitler, it should be easy to understand their obstinance over NATO expansion.

We have already tried the stick in dealing with Russia with little success.  Maybe it's time for a carrot to improve relations.  Let's come back from the brink.

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