Then, of course, President Bill Clinton expanded NATO to the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland, and President George W. Bush pushed it even further in early 2004. Russia perceived these actions as threatening, and they remain a bone of contention today. As former Russian presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky once told me, “We Russians might not understand financial puts and calls, but we do understand tanks.” (photo: Jonathan Utz, AFP/Getty)
From Bill Bradley at Foreign Policy: When I spoke with Baker, he agreed that he told Gorbachev that if the Soviet Union allowed German reunification and membership in NATO, the West would not expand NATO ‘one inch to the east.’ But ‘the east,’ for Baker, meant East Germany — not Eastern Europe. The United States later dialed back Baker’s offer even further, saying that legally, if Germany reunified, the White House couldn’t promise no NATO expansion into East Germany. The final compromise was that no ‘non-German’ NATO troops could be in East Germany, but German troops were allowed. According to the American participants in the negotiation, NATO expansion east of Germany didn’t even come up.