Mon Mar 17th, 2014 at 11:58:19 PM EST
Russia, Crimea and the Consequences of NATO Policy by Jeffrey Sommers & Michael Hudson (H/T Yves Smith) Originally published at Counterpunch
Discussing the peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union the authors note:
Part of the reason that this went off with such little violence was due to the mutual desire of President George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War's threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Gorbachev for his part recognized that the Warsaw Pact nations needed to be let go, in order to free resources to build up a more middle class consumer economy. Demilitarization was to be achieved by disarmament, all the more remarkable in view of the largest human losses suffered in world history from military invasion had occurred just two generations earlier. Germany became the focus, pending its reunification in 1990. It had invaded its neighbors every generation or so since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. In World War II it laid waste to the USSR and left 25 million of its people dead. Other East European nations, including Romania (and, along with victims of Stalinist oppression, e.g., the Baltics and Ukrainians, welcomed the Nazis and fought against Russia). The NATO alliance thus remained the main threat that had held the Soviet Union together
So Russia had vital security concerns that could only be met by assurances that NATO would not move into the Warsaw Pact states, where so much Soviet blood had been shed in World War II. President George H. W. Bush (#41) made assurances that if the Soviets were to dissolve the Warsaw Pact, Russia must be assured that the NATO would not fill the vacuum. But his successor, Bill Clinton, broke this promise by quickly taking the
former Warsaw Pact states into NATO, and then moved into territory formerly occupied and incorporated into the USSR with the Baltics.
It should have been foreseen - and probably was inevitable - that these new entrants wanted NATO, given their own experience with Soviet occupation. But the eagerness of a triumphalist United States to surround Russia militarily rather than disarm led Russian leaders to feel betrayed by the US breaking its word.
Jeffrey Sommers seems to be the likely source for the observations about the tacit agreement between G.H.W. Bush and Gorbichev and I would like some sourcing, which may be in some of his publications, but it seems right. And Clinton's Wall Street support came from many of the same people who later were 'advising' the Russians on 'reforms'.
Back to Sommers & Hudson:
Russia today has watched covert attempts from the US State Department to the National Endowment for Democracy and other NGOs to break up their country as part of what is becoming a triumphalist global pattern. This threatens to remake their "near abroad" into a neoliberal periphery. Today's confrontation has taken on an existential character for Russia since it saw NATO's moves toward Georgia as cutting too close to the bone. The prospects of NATO assimilating Ukraine (Kiev) represents a seizure of Russia's "heart": the very ancestral home where Russia was founded and on which it repelled the fascist invasion in the Great Patriotic War-as it had a millennium earlier against the German Crusading Knights pledged to exterminate the Russian-Greek Orthodox population.
The Crimea has been part of Russia for three hundred years. It is populated overwhelmingly by Russian speakers, who watch with alarm the rightwing nationalist violence in Kiev, all the more as many of its leaders are establishing symbolic and outright ideological ties with the old German Nazis. Viktor Yanunkovych was as much a crook as Ukraine's previous kleptocratic leaders who wielded political power to rob the state and its public domain, neoliberal style. The Crimean population has reason to fear that their elected President was illegally deposed not for his kleptocracy, but as part of a regional and ethnic identity politics of the sort that the Americans are sponsoring throughout the world, from the Shite/Sunni split to similar splits in countries they seek to control. The only protection available is from Russia. That is the gift that Obama has given Putin, making him a defender of Ukraine rather than the aggressor.