Russia Advises NATO to (Finally) Honor Its ‘Not One Inch Eastward’ Pledge

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by Robert Bridge, Strategic Culture:

Unlike in 1990, Russia has many options left to itself if NATO ignores its proposal for peace and continues to advance on the former Soviet space.

As NATO continues its mission creep inexorably towards the Russian border, Moscow issued a security proposal to the Western military bloc, which is in fact nothing less than an ultimatum: halt any further eastward military advances or Russia will be forced to act on behalf of its national interests.

The date February 9, 1990 will be forever remembered among historians as a ‘day of infamy’ as far as NATO-Russia relations are concerned. That was the date when U.S. Secretary of State James Baker famously assured Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, during glasnost-era talks on German unification that the Western military bloc would not advance “one inch eastward” towards Russia’s borders.

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The level of deception contained in that empty pledge is easily discernible today as NATO membership has exploded since the Cold War times to 30 member states. In 2004, the former Soviet states of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO at the 2004 Istanbul summit; Albania and Croatia became members in 2009, while North Macedonia joined in 2020.

Already, the Western military bloc abuts Russia’s northwestern border in the Baltic States of Latvia and Estonia. But now with the political tinderbox known as Ukraine actively seeking membership in NATO, Moscow has produced what amounts to an ultimatum, where the carrot is simply the preservation of peace among the world’s nuclear superpowers.

Will the US-led organization bite? On the question of NATO, the draft agreement on security states that “The United States of America shall take measures to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and deny accession to the Alliance to the former USSR republics.”

With the mess in Ukraine in mind, the draft emphasizes an obligation on the part of Washington and its allies not to establish military bases in former Soviet states that are not NATO members, not to use their infrastructure to carry out any military activities, and not to build bilateral military cooperation with them.

Moscow’s offer comes amid misleading and dangerous claims by Western leaders that Russia is looking to put boots on the ground in Ukraine, possibly as early as Christmas, remarks that have no basis in reality. In fact, it has been the West that has been ratcheting up tensions in the region.

Just last month, US bombers simulated a nuclear strike on Russia, with some of the aircraft approaching within 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) of the Russian border during the exercise, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

“We are witnessing a considerable increase in the US strategic bombers’ activity near the Russian borders. Over the past month, they conducted about 30 flights to the borders of the Russian Federation, or 2.5 times more compared to the same period of last year,” Shoigu said during talks with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe, Tass reported.

Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to Ukraine have been accelerating at a worrisome rate. This month it was revealed that Uncle Sam sent 30 Javelin anti-tank guided missile systems to Ukraine in October as part of its annual military aid procurement to help defend against that perennial bogeyman known as ‘Russian aggression.’

Russian lawmakers have warned that the US decision to provide Kiev with lethal weapons presented a blow to the Minsk Accords, an agreement adopted in September 2014 to ensure a ceasefire in the Donbas, and a threat to the security of the whole of Europe.

“Of course the [US] Congress members must understand that the supplies of lethal weapons to Ukraine would destroy the Minsk agreements at the very second they start,” Russian Deputy head of Committee for Defense and Security, Frants Klintsevich, told RIA Novosti. “Extending $350 million in military aid to Kiev is a direct call for them to start a full-scale war in Donbas.”

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