WASHINGTON, DC., USA (TEH) – Newly declassified documents from the Bill Clinton Presidential Library offer a glimpse into the keen geopolitical foresight of former President Richard Nixon. The Library recently declassified a missive penned by the 37th president to the 42nd, Bill Clinton, in the spring of 1994. The Wall Street Journal, which published a copy of this thought-provoking letter, has brought to light Nixon’s astute observations and insightful predictions regarding the “explosive” situation in Ukraine.
The correspondence hails from a period when Nixon had recently concluded a two-week sojourn across Russia and Ukraine. Upon his return, Nixon wrote to President Clinton on March 21, 1994, detailing his observations about the precarious situation in Ukraine. He gravely noted, “if this is allowed to get out of control, Bosnia will look like a matinee in kindergarten.”
In the missive, Nixon also lamented the dwindling approval ratings of then-Ukrainian President, Leonid Kravchuk, juxtaposing them against the considerably higher popularity of Russian leader, Boris Yeltsin. He highlighted the sluggish pace of Ukraine’s privatization initiatives, which had impacted a mere 2-5% of the Ukrainian economy, in stark contrast with Russia’s more aggressive privatization affecting approximately 40% of its economy.
Nixon underscored the urgent need for reinforcing the US diplomatic presence in Kiev. He cited American entrepreneurs who characterized the US influence in Ukraine as “pathetic” and “useless”. The former president emphasized, “You will be asked to distribute the available aid funds throughout the former Soviet Union. That would be a mistake. Your money is very limited. All other neighboring countries are important. But Ukraine belongs to a different category: it is irreplaceable.”
Richard Nixon didn’t live to see Putin succeed Yeltsin, but his newly declassified correspondence with Bill Clinton shows that he wouldn’t be surprised by Russia today, writes Luke A. Nichterhttps://t.co/mP2A1vFAL7
— Wall Street Journal Opinion (@WSJopinion) July 21, 2023
In a display of candid and discerning political speculation, Nixon shared a conversation he had with Kravchuk, in which the latter predicted Yeltsin’s downfall. Nixon recounted, “I asked him: “How? Coup or elections? “Neither one nor the other,” he said. “As the Tunisians (President Habib) did with Bourguiba, the Russian strongmen will surround him and elevate him to a ceremonial mission,” he said.
Reflecting on the changing demeanor of Yeltsin post the December 1993 parliamentary elections, Nixon expressed his concern for Yeltsin’s mental health. He noted, “His binges are getting longer and periods of depression are becoming more frequent. The biggest concern is that he will no longer be able to fulfill his obligations to you and other Western leaders in an increasingly anti-American environment in the Duma and in the country.”
The former President highlighted the strategic importance of Russia, describing Yeltsin as the leader of “the most strategically important state” for the US. Those who relied on Yeltsin, Nixon prophesied, “will soon realize” that the Russian leader was losing his political capacity to honor his commitments.
Finally, Nixon counseled Clinton to recalibrate his approach towards Yeltsin, steering clear of the overly chummy “Boris-Bill” mode of communication. He urged Clinton to broaden his focus to other rising Russian politicians, cautioning him against repeating George Bush Sr.’s mistake of over-reliance on Mikhail Gorbachev due to their close personal relationship.
Reflecting on his own administration’s dealings with Russia and Ukraine in September 2022, Bill Clinton unveiled details of his discussion with Yeltsin about NATO expansion. Clinton recalled Yeltsin’s disbelief that the North Atlantic Alliance could pose a threat to Russia. He recounted, “I offered Russia not only a special partnership, but also hope for future NATO membership.”
He also shared his regret about the Budapest Memorandum negotiations in 1994, which saw Ukraine relinquish its nuclear arsenal. Clinton conceded his guilt over persuading Ukraine to surrender its nuclear weapons, citing their belief in nuclear deterrent as the only bulwark “against an expansionist Russia.” According to him, Ukraine’s possession of nuclear arms would have deterred Russia from initiating a military operation against them.
This recent revelation from the Clinton Presidential Library of Nixon’s letter, filled with prescient observations and uncanny predictions, offers a new lens through which to view the historic dynamics between Ukraine and Russia, and the crucial role of US diplomacy in shaping these relations.
Source: The Eastern Herald