November 19, 2019
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West hijacked Cold War victory but never cared how Russians feel about it – Gorbachev Moscow put enormous effort to end the Cold War, but the reward was frustrating – the West declared itself the only victor and neglected the Russians’ perception of it, Mikhail Gorbachev admitted.

“The end of the Cold War was our common victory, but western politicians, and especially the US, declared themselves victors” Gorbachev told in a sit-down with Germany’s newspaper as he recalled the 1989 collapse of the Berlin wall – a milestone symbolic event that spelled end of the decades-long East-West divide and set hopes high about the future of their ties.

Laying groundwork for future cracks between Moscow and Western capitals, American and European leaders have never thought of “how it will be perceived in Russia,” Gorbachev asserted, adding that Russians “have done so much to end the Cold War and the arms race.”

Likewise, they also failed to anticipate how it will “affect politics and relations between Russia and the West,” he lamented.

Those ties aren’t in their best shape now as old problems snowball into the new ones, the former Soviet leader pointed out, but it’s crucial to “look ahead, not backwards.”

Russia is ready to fix ties with the West, he said, noting that “the people of Russia are more democratic than you think.”

Gorbachev, the first and only USSR President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, played a crucial role in negotiating terms of Germany’s unification in 1990 with the other three World War II victors, namely the US, the UK and France.

At the time, Western leaders repeatedly assured him that NATO wouldn’t move east of Germany’s borders, thus posing a threat to the Soviet Union.George H. W. Bush’s Secretary of State, James Baker, was the one who made the most notorious statement of the era, promising that the alliance would not move “one inch to the east.”

Shortly afterwards, the USSR and Warsaw Pact dissolved, but animosity mounted again when Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary were invited into NATO in 1997.The alliance continued to claim that there was no promise, as none of the assurances were put on paper.

But a throve of documents put together by George Washington University-based National Security Archive in 2017 prove the otherwise, revealing how top Western officials vowed to Gorbachev in unison that NATO would not expand eastward. 

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Conrad Contributor