'The topic of 'NATO expansion' was not discussed at all..' - Gorbachev

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'One thing that the new warmth between Moscow and the West did not produce was a promise that NATO would not expand to take in states that were coming out from under decades of dominance from Moscow. There has been much debate about this, but Gorbachev has said clearly that there was no such pledge -- and not much discussion, if any, of whether or not the Western military alliance should encompass any country east of Germany, which was reunified before 1990 was out.


As Pifer pointed out, one of those times was in a March 18, 2014 speech in which he sought to justify Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine -- sealed that week after Moscow sent its forces to the Black Sea peninsula, secured control of key buildings, and staged a referendum considered illegitimate by at least 100 countries -- by raising the prospect that, if it had not, and Ukraine eventually joined NATO, the alliance's naval forces could be housed in Sevastopol, long the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

The West has "lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact," Putin said. "This happened with NATO's expansion to the East, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders."

Putin has repeated this narrative since 2014, as well, but it all goes back to conversations between Soviet and Western officials in 1990 -- including one between Gorbachev and U.S. Secretary of State James Baker on February 9, nine days after McDonald's opened in Moscow.

"The topic of 'NATO expansion' was not discussed at all, and it wasn't brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility," Gorbachev said in a 2014 interview with Russia Behind The Headlines.

"So, don't portray Gorbachev and the then-Soviet authorities as naive people who were wrapped around the West's finger," he said. "If there was naivete, it was later, when the issue arose. Russia at first did not object." '

- Steve Gutterman, Big Mac Memories And Long-Held Grievances, January 31, 2020


'..when the Soviet Union crumbled and East European countries wanted the Cold War victors' protection..'

'..a comprehensive, long-term strategy designed to reinforce Ukrainian statehood and integrate Ukraine into Europe..'

'You have to be prepared to take up weapons when dealing with Putin..' - '..his behavior looks like madness, but in fact it's a cold strategy for life-long despotism.'