Once upon a time, in the ever-complicated world of international relations, a story unfolded that shaped the dynamics between Russia and the West. It was an era of camaraderie and cooperation, where former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the United States were seemingly good friends. But behind closed doors, Yeltsin had a secret agenda to halt NATO’s expansion.
The Western interests
The West had provided assistance and aid to Russia during Yeltsin’s presidency, and their friendship was a mix of support and challenges. Even Yelstin casually traveled to US and UK for parties, he has been known for it.
However, things started to change when Yeltsin privately expressed his opposition to NATO’s expansion, while publicly voicing a different stance. Declassified files shed light on the truth, revealing a calculated move by Yeltsin to dampen domestic opposition to NATO expansion.
The 1997 Debacle
In 1997, the NATO/Russia Founding Act was signed, seemingly to build trust and promote consultation and cooperation. Yet, it was nothing more than a public relations exercise at the request of Yeltsin. The Act was meant to convince the Russian people that their security concerns were being considered, even though NATO refused to make it legally binding.
Amidst this charade, tensions between Russia and the West grew. Dire warnings about the dangers of NATO expansion were communicated by senior figures in the Russian government.
A private conversation between Yeltsin’s British counterpart, John Major, and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin revealed the risks NATO was taking with its post-Soviet expansion. Chernomyrdin passionately warned that NATO expansion could “explode” across Europe.
The turning point came during the 1999 Kosovo War. NATO intervened in the conflict through Operation Allied Force, conducting airstrikes against Yugoslav military targets to protect civilians. Russia opposed this intervention, considering it a violation of Yugoslav sovereignty. Although Russia provided diplomatic support to Yugoslavia, the country eventually splintered into smaller nations.
Surprisingly, NATO continued its expansion even after the bloodbath in Yugoslavia. Poland and the Czech Republic joined NATO, causing Russia to suspect something nefarious was afoot. Yeltsin’s advisors knew they needed a strong leader to challenge NATO, and that’s when Vladimir Putin entered the picture.
In Yeltsin’s outgoing administration chief, Anatoly Chubais introduced Putin as a potential candidate for the future. Yeltsin and Chubais recognized Putin’s brilliance and intelligence as KGB officials. His readiness for more significant tasks was greenlighted by Yelstin’s cabinet. In August 1999, Putin was appointed prime minister, signaling that Yeltsin was preparing him for the presidency.
In December 1999, Yeltsin made a surprise announcement to leave office early. Just days before the New Year, he summoned Putin to his country’s residence, setting the stage for a transition of power. And so, Vladimir Putin ascended to power.
Putin’s early years as president went relatively smoothly, but his fierce opposition to NATO’s expansion became evident. Time and again, Putin proved to be NATO’s biggest critic. From derailing NATO’s ploy in Georgia to fiercely safeguarding Russia’s interests, Putin emerged as a formidable force against the alliance’s expansion.
It became increasingly clear that Yeltsin had planted Putin strategically to protect Russia’s interests and counter NATO’s ambitions. And so, the story of Yeltsin and Putin unfolded, painting a vivid picture of a calculated move to stop NATO’s expansion.
Putin has emerged as the most vocal opponent of NATO’s expansion, highlighting Yelstin’s deliberate planting of Putin. This makes it more evident that was planted to guard the map Ivin drew to protect Mother Russia.