by Ted Snider
Why should the American people know anything about the wars the government chooses to fight?
On January 10, American and Russian officials will meet to discuss Putin’s proposal on mutual security guarantees. Western media and political analysts have cast Putin’s demands that NATO not expand further east to Ukraine and that NATO not establish military bases in former Soviet states nor use them to carry out military activity as bold and impossible.
Here are six crucial pieces of background that the western media will not tell you.
The NATO Promise
Putin’s demands are only bold if it is bold to ask NATO to keep its promises; his demands are only impossible if it is impossible for NATO to keep its promises.
On February 9, 1990, Secretary of State James Baker assured Gorbachev that if NATO got Germany – a huge concession – NATO would not expand one inch east of Germany. The next day, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher made the same promise to his Soviet counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadz. Earlier, on January 31, 1990, Genscher had already publicly declared in a major speech that there would not be “an expansion of NATO territory to the east, in other words, closer to the borders of the Soviet Union.”
Recently declassified documents make it clear that all the western powers, including not only the US and Germany but also the UK and France, repeatedly made Russia the same promise.
Seven years later, when the US had already broken that promise, Clinton made Russia a second promise. Having expanded NATO far east of Germany, at least they would not permanently station substantial combat forces. That was the promise the US signed in the NATO-Russia Founding Act on Mutual Relations. It was a reiteration of the earlier February 1990 promise that, not only NATO membership, but NATO troops would not extend east.
So, far from being bold or asking the ridiculous, what the media will not tell you is that Putin is not asking for any new Western concessions. He is asking only that the West honor the commitments it has already made.