Ukraine, NATO, Russia and World War – Part 2
But regardless of this, the Russians felt that their efforts in the second world war had not only been unappreciated but that at the tail end of the war, the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, with two hydrogen bombs/atomic bombs without the knowledge of the Russians. The Russians felt betrayed that their partner in fighting the war could have such weapon without any disclosure. This is what led to the Russians developing an arsenal of their own, of nuclear weapons and this set off the nuclear weapons race. There are five countries that have nuclear weapons, but before long, it became clear to the two, Russia and the USA, that they had to find some kind of a way to accommodate themselves without blowing one another up. That led to the theory of Mutual Deterrence.
When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, had large parts of Germany which they controlled. They were the four that controlled Berlin which in actual fact, was situated in the middle of what would become the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Bonn has remained the capital of Western Germany for quite a while.
In the late 1990s, the Germans decided that they would like to re-unify. In other words, they wanted East Germany (The German Democratic Republic), which was under the USSR, which was under the Warsaw pact, to join West Germany to form a United Germany after they had brought down the Berlin Wall in 1998. This demand for the unification of Germany had major consequences for Russia and USSR.
The NATO, which many times the USSR had asked that they wanted to join, in other words, they wanted to bring NATO and the WARSAR Pact countries under a single organization for the protection of all of Europe, but it didn’t work. The Russians felt that so long as NATO remained the organization which Western Europe were using for their defense arrangements, that was okay, if they could keep Eastern Europe under the Warsaw pact. But with the agitation in Germany for unification, the then Secretary of State, Baker, promised in myriad speeches that NATO did not seek expansion and that not one inch of territory would join NATO from Eastern Europe.
That was the understanding which the then Soviet leader Gorbachev believed in, but of course with the unification of Eastern and Western Germany, automatically it falls to reason that if Western Germany was under NATO a unified Germany, would either have to leave NATO or all of it will be under NATO, and if that happened then that cardinal promise of not one inch East of Western Germany would have been breached and it was breached. It was breached at the cost that this story doesn’t make any sense except that to say that Gorbachev had problems in USSR because of his powers and not about the Perestroika that he was trying to sell. The economy of the USSR was not as robust as the economy of the West and Perestroika and Glasnost were blames for tanking the USSR economy. From 1946 to 1991, Berlin was a divided city.
It also had internal problems with hardliners who wanted to remain and maintain the Leninist strong ideology which he was trying to get out of. The result was an economic decline under Gorbachev and Western Germany and the United States had promised economic aid to Gorbachev in order that he would be able to sell the story of unification to his people without causing a political upheaval. In other words, Gorbachev was bribed substantially. He didn’t receive as much money as he thought he ought to, but he did receive a major sum of money. It was indeed that a coup was attempted. The coup and its fall out got rid of Gorbachev for a few months, brought into prominence Boris Yeltsin, a drunk who didn’t know his left from his right. In any case, the economy of the USSR continued to tank. While it was tanking, many states in the old Warsaw pact were now being enticed by the West to join the European Union and NATO contrary to the treaty of minutes/ Minsk, and in the Treaty of Washington and several accords all of which already insisted that NATO would not expand one inch to the East.
When Yeltsin then proposed a looser federation of the USSR, three countries came together to declare that they wanted out; and which were these countries? Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. So, the fortunes of Russia and Ukraine were interstices ally bound and Russia has always regarded Ukraine (in fact Ukraine was then called Little Russia) an existential part of the whole Soviet Union a part of the whole Russian Psyche.
It would be remembered that under President Obama, Putin who had been in East Germany at the time of the unification and he saw what was going on, had always felt that the greatness of the Russian Empire and USSR should be reestablished. And so, in 2014, as part of this dogma of Putin, he invaded Crimea, claiming that it was part of Russia. He did it under President Obama, vice President Biden who talked a lot about Red liners but did nothing to Russia. So, the claim of Russia to Ukraine and its reality was not really opposed. There were some feeble economic sanctions imposed on Russia. Nobody really argued forcefully so, Putin was thus emboldened to believe that he could continue in his quest for the re-establishment of the old Russian Great Empire.
Eastern Ukraine contains two states that are basically Russian, and Putin claimed that these two states should come back to Russia. Ukraine itself had been typified as the most corrupt nation in the world, maybe after Nigeria. It was Ukraine that used its cyber knowledge to attack Mrs. Clinton and to spread all sorts of false stories about Mrs. Clinton such that Mr. Trump was able to win the presidency. Moreover, Hunter Biden, the son of the then vice president became a director in a Ukrainian oil company for which he was being paid eight million dollars per annum.
To be continued tomorrow
Dr. Cole (OFR) is a former Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil.