Compare the pair


NATO in 1990
NATO in 2023

Millions of words have been written about the creeping encroachment of NATO eastward towards the border of the Russian Federation.

Recent media reports suggest the Turkey will soon drop its objections to Finland joining the bloc with only Hungary’s objections yet to be overcome.  One can only imagine the pressure Hungarian politicians will endure as the sole ‘hold-out’ but those tribulations will almost certainly be soothed by assorted inducement.  

It is well established that the raison d’etre of NATO was largely to contain Russia but since the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO’s purpose of existence has not changed significantly.  In fact, NATO over the ensuing years has been very accommodating to those former Soviet bloc nations that wished to join.        

But didn’t the Americans agree not to expand NATO eastward?

The answer to that question is mired in assorted recollections but there was never any formal agreement.  After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a treaty signed in 1990 extended NATO into East Germany, which had been zoned to the Soviet Union.  

James Baker, former Secretary of State told CNN during a 2009 interview “there was a discussion about whether the unified Germany would be a member of NATO, and that was the only discussion we ever had. There was never any discussion of anything but East Germany.”

But others have said that assurances were made, including Jack Matlock, the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Robert Gates, the deputy national security adviser at the time.  Gates said the Soviets “were led to believe” NATO would not expand eastward.

Even Gorbachev seemed confused.  He once insisted he was promised NATO would not “move one centimetre further east” but in 2014, he said the question never came up, yet added that NATO’s eventual expansion was “a violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made in 1990.”

In any event, it’s now moot.  Historians may continue to debate what, if any, comments were made by the negotiating parties during that 1989-90 period but NATO made no written pledge.  There was ‘possibly’ a tacit understanding, but no more than that. 

Which brings us to Georgia.

Hands up all those that think the American CIA fermented the recent disturbances in Georgia.  Yeah, me too. 

Georgia is a small and comparatively insignificant country on Russia’s southern flank but it jumped into world news following several days of protests that were triggered by a bill on the ‘Transparency of Foreign Influence’, that had been initially adopted by the Georgian parliament. 

The bill proposed a national register of “foreign influence agents.”  The register would have listed all non-profit legal entities and media organizations which receive 20% or more of their funding from overseas. 

The reaction to something relatively innocuous may be surprising until you realise the sheer numbers of foreign NGO/NPOs active in Georgia.  In 2020, a report by the Asian Development Bank indicated that of the 12,800 organizations registered in Georgia, the vast majority rely on foreign funding and 7,972 of those operated with foreign founders.  For a nation with a population of only 3.7 million, that equates to around 300 people per foreign NPO/NGO.  

Perhaps not so surprising that many of the foreign (and influential) NGOs immediately understood the potential existential threat of the legislation and acted accordingly.  Their cloak of anonymity would be gone.

Now we get to the guts of the matter.  For the past 30 years, Georgia has become a recipient of US aid receiving an average of (officially) ~$US120m per annum through the US State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

However, the annual budgets of the most influential Georgian NGOs are comparable to the turnover of medium-sized commercial entities.  The Soros Foundation alone invested more than $10 million and the CIA-linked National Endowment for Democracy distributed $1.2 million in grants in one year among a handful of Georgian NGOs.  The main areas of their work were ‘media support’, election monitoring and civil influence over the activities of the executive branch, among others things. 

So, we have influence, money and now threats.

During the recent unrest, the US and the EU warned Georgian authorities that the successful adoption of the law would likely “deprive the country of the chance to acquire EU candidate status and join NATO”.  The bill was dropped although the protests continued for a few more days.

Georgia’s eventual joining with NATO would serve the alliance by creating a border link with Turkey to access Russia via the south.  Covering an area almost identical to Tasmania, Georgia has the right to self-determination but needs to be mindful of the lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The voices of some NGOs do not necessarily have Georgia’s best interests at heart.  Beware those offering trinkets and promises of gold – there is a much larger geopolitical game afoot.

Kiev, Ukraine, November 2014
Tbilisi, Georgia, March 2023


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billie
billie
March 22, 2023 12:59 pm

The expeditionary goals of the US Dept of State are met by throwing colonial governments, e.g. Ukraine and soon Georgia, Finland and Sweden, under the bus.

The USA don’t care how many foreigners are killed to obtain and maintain their world order (i.e. access to other people’s wealth and resources).

Ukraine will burn out soon, run out of soldiers basically, hence Poland being ginned up to step in, and then another and another.

The only way I reckon will stop the USA having forever wars in the rest of the world, is if someone attacks them on their home ground, then see how the appetite of the American people is for war.

Currently it’s all abstract and most Americans don’t even know what their government is up to. Pillaging the world has generated a lot of hate.

As their currency loses power though, so will the tolerence for their interference in other countries politics.

Will there be a great reset in world power, possibly if Russia and China can hold together with the rest of the world and push back on the USA.

Rabz
March 22, 2023 1:48 pm

Which brings us to Georgia.

The birthplace of Koba, one of human history’s most terrible monsters.

Youngster
Youngster
March 22, 2023 2:02 pm

There are only two options here – democracy and western liberalism (of some variety) spreads east, or totalitarianism spreads west. Take your pick.

The former nations of the USSR were never going to remain as a sort of neutral buffer between Russia and Europe. In some respects, it’s amazing it has taken this long for many of them to take a side.

John
John
March 22, 2023 2:05 pm

Excellent! NOTHING wrong with red turning blue. Better dead than red. I hate commies because of the misery and death they’ve inflicted upon the world.

Again and again it comes around the inconvenient (to some here) fact that it was Russia that invaded Ukraine and not the other way around.

Pyrmonter
March 22, 2023 2:16 pm

Remind me, is the new Cat conservative or radically left? ‘The CIA fermented (sic) …’ could be lifted from student rags of the 1980s.

Where is the evidence that the CIA has ever managed to foment political change anywhere after 1960? These are the people who missed the fall of the Shah, the fall of communism and the twin towers. But still (presumably in cahoots with the ever perfidious MI6) are somehow controlling the world?

Rob MW
Rob MW
March 22, 2023 2:41 pm

During the recent unrest, the US and the EU warned Georgian authorities that the successful adoption of the law would likely “deprive the country of the chance to acquire EU candidate status and join NATO”. The bill was dropped although the protests continued for a few more days.

Well said Speedy. What is interesting is that most, if not all, Western countries have legislated some form or other Foreign Agents Registration laws with the latest being Canada. America has their FARA Act which was used quite extensively by the Democrats against anyone in Trump’s orbit during Trump’s term in office as the whole world knows – Russia, Russia, Russia etc.

In my view, it would seem the easiest way to sort this sort activist foreign NGO interventionism out is to simply to tax the living shit out of the foreign domiciled NGO organizations, in other words, remove their tax free status. Old cane toad face and his foundations operating in foreign countries would shed his warts in a second.

I do think that the Red in the second map should be updated to reflect the fact that Russia is no longer a Communist State (USSR) and is now (since about 1991/92) a more than somewhat democracy and referred to and defined as the Russian Federation. Russia still has its Communists, but, so does Australia, the U.S, the U.K, the E.U etc, unlike Ukraine, which has an entirely and openly something else.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 22, 2023 3:04 pm

Finland and Sweden wouldn’t be trying to join NATO except for a certain event in February last year. They never had any interest before then, indeed they had a strong desire to be non-aligned, especially Sweden.

Being a bad neighbor leads to everyone near you getting big ferocious dogs. It’s funny how humans are so predictable like this.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 22, 2023 3:10 pm

The result of all this has been pretty predictable.

Gallup Poll: 90 Percent of Americans View Russia Unfavorably (13 Mar)

Republicans and Democrats now each give Russia identical 6% favorable ratings, while independents are slightly higher at 11%.

Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans diverge in their opinions of Ukraine, although both groups (82% and 56%, respectively) view the country favorably.

Similar percentages of Republicans (62%) and Democrats (58%) believe the Russia-Ukraine conflict represents a critical threat to U.S. vital interests, as do a smaller majority of independents (51%). Republicans (up six points) and independents (up five points) are modestly more likely to see that conflict as a critical threat than in 2022.

Both sides of politics are hostile to Russia, at least in the US. But a significant plurality of righties are not warm to Ukraine as well. That seems a sensible position to me. On the other hand the only side that can end this war is Russia, and I don’t see how Vlad can do that without ending in a cheap pine box. It’s a Greek-style tragedy with no good answers unfortunately.

Indigo
Indigo
March 22, 2023 4:16 pm

Let Georgia join NATO or not, but get rid of Turkey, and Islamic dictatorship bet on wiping out the Kurdish people.

Louis Litt
Louis Litt
March 22, 2023 4:22 pm

JOhn 22/3/23 2.05pm

Minsk Agreement – say one thing do another.
As I understand the agreement was the Ukranian Govt was to stop shelling the Russian population is Donbass and Lushenk regions.
Weapons from western Europe were sent to the Ukrane .
Look at open hostility against Putin well ebfore the invasion. The media and pollies and NGO were didiculing him. They were desabalising is counttry and neighbours and friendly states.
Remeber Putin did out O Bama for being either and “Idiot or some who wished harm on his own people with his adoption of socialism” .
BTW the leftist West is not left – they are hedonists.

Roger
Roger
March 22, 2023 8:20 pm

Only an inebriated, historically amnesiac wombat could fail to understand why these countries are wary of Russia.

Louis Litt
March 22, 2023 10:09 pm

Roger 22/3/23 @ 8.20
Which falk in the road – Putin is going to invade anything and he must be gotten rid of or he is not on the page with Blair, Merkel, Clinton etc
Is this a personal hit job for the lbgiq etc?

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
March 23, 2023 9:10 am

Speedy – here’s a nice article for you:

Thought for the Day: Morson on the Russian Way of War | Power Line (21 Mar)

It’s long but may chime with a lot of what you have been describing. The link to Commentary Mag article worked for me without hitting a paywall.

Jock
Jock
March 23, 2023 12:01 pm

I disagree. Poland , the Baltic etc were invaded by Russia or USSR during or after the war. Given the way they were treated is it any wonder that they want to join an alliance which will deter Russia. Pondering promises of 30 years ago is fine. But then we had Gorbachev and his successor. Russia was less if a threat and seemed more likely to join in the world . But the rise of putin and his cabal changed that. His antics in Ukraine and Georgia clearly show his disdain. The balts know well that Russia is a threat. And when they were in control put in place Russian immigrants to act as a 5th column.

Dot
Dot
March 23, 2023 8:38 pm

James Baker, former Secretary of State told CNN during a 2009 interview “there was a discussion about whether the unified Germany would be a member of NATO, and that was the only discussion we ever had. There was never any discussion of anything but East Germany.”

But others have said that assurances were made, including Jack Matlock, the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Robert Gates, the deputy national security adviser at the time. Gates said the Soviets “were led to believe” NATO would not expand eastward.

The minutes as taken by the Soviets and Americans are different, you can see copies of them with a little research. Bush also said stuff them, we didn’t win the Cold War to give the USSR concessions.

Clinton was criticised for only putting Central Europe in the “NATO waiting room”, particularly by Dole, Biden and McCain. Yeltsin and Clinton got along, but the domestic politics of each nation never allowed them to agree the way Gorbachev and Reagan did.

The problem with Gates’ view is the Soviet Union ceased to exist on Dec 26 1991.

Terry Andrews
Terry Andrews
March 23, 2023 9:05 pm

Stalin promised free elections for Eastern Europe and instead occupied. Protection from Russia is the first priority of its neighbours.

Louis Litt
March 23, 2023 10:28 pm

Jock,
Agree with you. My father was a Balt and passed away as a Balt.
The country was butchered and the hatred lingers.
But what I could never work out after what happened to my father and his country was his visceral hatred of America and her though the Russian was better than the German.
By speaking with others his age and reading, the Germans tried to move in for a land grab. After the fall of the Jangellian empire What I think was a revolting regime ruled by revolting ruler moved in – Russia.
What it’s today I don’t know. But personally right now , Putin is A preferred option to all of the western labor parties.
He does not ridicule his people.
I would like to see a independent Prussia – the dream.

Louis Litt
March 23, 2023 10:36 pm

Dot
You raise a good point Reagan and Gorbachev and the Yeltsin and Clinton.
Reagan and Gorbachev family Christianity and work.
Yeltsin and Clinton – sex and alcohol – how are these two able to lead. Clinton sped up the social divide and behavioural standards in America while Yeltsin , drunk not knowing what to do invaded countries and did not know what to do as his country slid into further poverty.
I could not trust what either Clinton or Yeltsin said.

Dot
Dot
March 24, 2023 8:51 am

You also forget that the USSR lost, Russia was an absolutely powerless orphan until it was stabilised and Russia took tens of billions in aid money from the USA (Bush Snr) and Germany (Kohl) in 1992 dollars and now want to dictate terms to all of Europe.

Putin is a literal serial killer and should be put down like a pig. Clinton getting sucked off by a secretary pales to that.

alan sivkoff
alan sivkoff
March 24, 2023 1:24 pm

speedy, your attempts to whitewash the whole Putin / Nato issue overlooks the primary issue here. 90% of the people of Ukaraine voted to leave the Russian federation when communism collapsed. Subsequently, russian involvement in fomenting unrest in these near border areas; Donbas, Luhansk, is unmistakable given the background & history of Putin. Another convenient fact often overlooked by you and DB is that Ukaraine and its people have suffered terribly under Russian control, both pre & post Tsar Nicholas. Millions were deliberately starved to death, millions more lost the lives in the civil war and then the russian / ukaraine war. The ww2 where the bulk of land lost and people killed were in the Ukaraine. Combinations of deliberate policies of Stalin, Beria and then wars resulted in much of the country being denuded of population, hence the relocation of ethnic russians into the area.

dover0beach
Admin
March 24, 2023 2:18 pm

Another convenient fact often overlooked by you and DB is that Ukaraine and its people have suffered terribly under Russian control, both pre & post Tsar Nicholas. Millions were deliberately starved to death, millions more lost the lives in the civil war and then the russian / ukaraine war.

Western Ukraine was not even a part of Russia during the famines of the 1930s which also ravaged southern Russia and Kazakhstan.

Dot
Dot
March 24, 2023 4:58 pm

Western Ukraine was not even a part of Russia during the famines of the 1930s which also ravaged southern Russia and Kazakhstan.

You’re coping for the Holodomor and refusing to mention it by name. This is like how the Japanese used to write their textbooks.

Every single province in Ukraine voted YES for independence in 1991. Even the Donbas provinces, Sevastopol and Crimea.

Here is a historical Russian made map of Little Russia (Ukraine) from 1915.

If Russia (Putin) wants to make historical claims, he should be giving land to Ukraine.

Louis Litt
March 24, 2023 11:43 pm

Dot 24/3 @ 8:51

Russia lost – did not pay any reparations.

Who stabilised Russia.
Clinton is a killer. Clinton with Blair and Merkel have caused un necessary wars and denigrated their own people, caused unemployment and deskilled the male population to be useless.
They want Putin dead because he is a male. They provoked him with the shelling of the Donbas.
If I was a nations leader with courage I would want to protect my people.
Clinton’s etc are screaming police brutality.

alan sivkoff
alan sivkoff
March 25, 2023 8:24 am

also DB and other apologists, you also conveniently overlook the mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars to Siberia. Another form of ethnic cleansing that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of many people, men women & children. A factor that has been repeated in todays conflict with the mass relocation of Ukrainan children.

dover0beach
Admin
March 25, 2023 12:40 pm

You’re coping for the Holodomor and refusing to mention it by name.

No, I’m correcting half-arsed historical assertions that don’t even recognize what the inter-wars map looked like in Eastern Europe. “Same my name!” What a joke.

dover0beach
Admin
March 25, 2023 12:44 pm

Imagine crying a river over Crimean Tatars, who over several centuries raided, captured, and sold into slavery the peoples to their north. This is a perfect example of Western liberals confecting outrage tendentiously against a group or people they are targeting.

alan sivkoff
alan sivkoff
March 25, 2023 2:43 pm

DB, after being a lurker on this site for some considerable time, I am somewhat surprised that your default line of rebuttal is some strawman argument. Very immature and somewhat unprofessional for someone who normally takes a more nuanced approach.

Dot
Dot
March 26, 2023 9:41 am

Imagine crying a river over Crimean Tatars, who over several centuries raided, captured, and sold into slavery the peoples to their north. This is a perfect example of Western liberals confecting outrage tendentiously against a group or people they are targeting.

This is ahistorical and racist nonsense. The word Ukraine has been used since around 1300, the Kiev Rus is the historical antecedent. Nor are Ukrainians “Tartars”, more so if they eventually agree to give up Crimea (which voted for Ukrainian independence anyway) in an eventual peace deal. What’s more Tartars make up < 1% of the Ukrainian population (if you include Crimea) and 3.5% of Russia.

The map I showed you was of “Little Russia” as of 1915 and showed a much more expanded ethnic Ukraine on the grounds of linguistics. Bigger than in 1992 and bigger than in 1919. The map was produced in Moscow by Russian historians and linguists.

As for the Russian Empire, how did it emerge? Military service and peasantry was based on owning serfs or “souls” until the late 1800s. Lifelong serfdom after the Age of Enlightenment. Their Empire existed only because of military expansion. Who was buying captured Ukrainian slaves off the Crimean Tartars? I’ll give you a hint, who is to the north of Ukraine?

What a silly argument in support of Putin’s sequential land grabs in 2008 (Donbas), 2014 (Crimea) and 2022 (attempted: all of Ukraine).

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