Political Observer comments.
January 27, 2022
Headline: The empire returns: Russia, Ukraine and the long shadow of the Soviet Union
Sub-headline: As the Kremlin attempts to reassert control over its neighbours, Ukrainian historian Serhii Plokhy uncovers the deep roots of the crisis
Note Mr. Plokhy’s impressive qualifications:
Serhii Plokhy is professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University. His new book ‘Atoms and Ashes: From Bikini Atoll to Fukushima’ will be published in May by Allen Lane. Copyright © 2022, Serhii Plokhy
At a approximately 2000 words, with what is meant to be evocative, illustrative photographs, that act as a filler to this essay- Professor Plokhy provides the usual History Made To Measure, of a more sophisticated kind. How can The Reader question an expert in the field of Ukrainian history? That Reader might just opine, that Professor Plokhy has written a more sophisticated version of War Propaganda. And that he has Copyrighted his essay, to discourage unwanted critics from direct quotation of his polemic?
As informative as Professor Plokhy might be, in its truncated explanatory frame -a revelatory part of what he ignores is explained in this essay :
Headline: NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard
Sub-headline: Declassified documents show security assurances against NATO expansion to Soviet leaders from Baker, Bush, Genscher, Kohl, Gates, Mitterrand, Thatcher, Hurd, Major, and Woerner :Slavic Studies Panel Addresses “Who Promised What to Whom on NATO Expansion?”
Washington D.C., December 12, 2017 – U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on February 9, 1990, was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification in 1990 and on into 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (
The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.
The documents reinforce former CIA Director Robert Gates’s criticism of “pressing ahead with expansion of NATO eastward [in the 1990s], when Gorbachev and others were led to believe that wouldn’t happen.” The key phrase, buttressed by the documents, is “led to believe.”
President George H.W. Bush had assured Gorbachev during the Malta summit in December 1989 that the U.S. would not take advantage (“I have not jumped up and down on the Berlin Wall”) of the revolutions in Eastern Europe to harm Soviet interests; but neither Bush nor Gorbachev at that point (or for that matter, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl) expected so soon the collapse of East Germany or the speed of German unification.
The first concrete assurances by Western leaders on NATO began on January 31, 1990, when West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher opened the bidding with a major public speech at Tutzing, in Bavaria, on German unification. The U.S. Embassy in Bonn (see Document 1) informed Washington that Genscher made clear “that the changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’” The Bonn cable also noted Genscher’s proposal to leave the East German territory out of NATO military structures even in a unified Germany in NATO.