A recent Letter to the Editor by the Very Reverend Abraham A.J. Miller [“Fighting Our Fight,” Letters, November 23] reminds us of past historical commitments and makes the case that Ukraine is fighting our fight against Russia, and U.S. funding of the war should be continued.
I would like to expand on that history and demonstrate that Joe Biden’s proxy war could have been avoided had numerous historical grievances and warnings been heeded by the administration.
In 1990, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker made verbal commitments on how NATO troops would utilize the territory of former East Germany under the terms of the German Reunification Treaty. Baker had promised Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand eastward if Russia accepted the German reunification. This is supported in many writings, including Gorbachev’s own memoirs.
British Prime Minister John Major assured Soviet Defense Minister Marshall Dmitry Yazov in 1991 that there would be no further NATO expansion when he said, “Nothing of that sort will ever happen,” according to the diaries of the British ambassador to Moscow, Rodric Braithwaite.
In 1993, Boris Yeltsin wrote to President Bill Clinton to complain that the spirit of the treaty had been breached.
Biden’s current CIA director, William J. Burns, has been warning against NATO expansion and its provocative effects on Russia since 1995, when he was a political officer in the U.S. embassy in Moscow. Burns reported to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that “hostility to early NATO expansion is almost universally felt across the political spectrum here.” Once again, we were forewarned of Russia’s concerns.
Since the treaty, 14 new members to NATO have been added, each knocking on Russia’s doorstep, as Ukraine now seeks to be added to NATO.
The Biden administration cannot make the simple geographic and historical leap of imagination that a NATO presence and missiles on Russia’s western border is their Cuban missile existential crisis, their logical line in the sand. Every previous western attack on Russia has been through this corridor, because there are no natural boundaries to prevent attack. Russia’s western border sits on a flat European plain, and its primary defense has been harsh winters.
Since Russia cannot return to its previous borders, along the Carpathian Mountains, before the collapse of the USSR, they wisely want guarantees of a buffer for valid reasons of national security.
War is always the result of a series of misunderstandings, miscalculations and mistakes. Biden erred after Russia had agreed to withdraw to its pre-invasion position of February 23, 2022. Biden lobbied former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scuttle that agreement in April 2022. Current estimates are over 100,000 dead on each side because the West wasn’t ready to end the war.
One fine body…