From the New York Times: Did the United States betray Russia at the dawn of the post-cold war era? The short answer is no. Nothing legally binding emerged from the negotiations over German unification. In fact, in September 1990, an embattled Mr. Gorbachev signed the accords that allowed NATO to extend itself over the former East Germany in exchange for financial assistance from Bonn to Moscow. A longer answer, however, shows that there were mixed messages and diplomatic ambiguities.

By acknowledging that there might be some substance to Russian grievances, the Obama administration would strengthen our relations with Moscow. Given that NATO enlargement has already taken place (and efforts for further expansion are stalled), little would be lost with such an acknowledgment but much could be gained. Certainly, Western attempts to manage everything from Iran’s nuclear program to European energy supplies during the coming winter would be a great deal easier with Russia’s cooperation. A commemoration of the events of 20 years ago that included both celebration and candor would increase the likelihood of such cooperation.

Excerpt from OpEd by Mary Elise Sarotte, a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California and the author of “1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe.” (photo: Picture-Alliance/DPA)