Declassified files reveal NATO ‘forced’ 1997 deal on Moscow

(MENAFN) Recently declassified documents from the United States-based National Security Archive provide insights into discussions between former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and United States President Bill Clinton in 1997, highlighting Russia's resistance to NATO's eastward expansion.

According to the documents, a candid conversation took place between Clinton and Yeltsin during a meeting in Finland in March 1997, preceding the signing of the NATO-Russia Founding Act two months later. Yeltsin expressed strong opposition to NATO's enlargement, stating that the bloc's expansion toward Russia's borders was perceived as an attempt to divide Europe.

Yeltsin emphasized to Clinton that Russia felt compelled to sign the agreement not out of willingness but as a forced measure to mitigate the negative impacts of NATO's eastward expansion. He stressed that there were no viable alternatives at the time, highlighting Russia's concerns about the security implications of NATO's growing influence in Eastern Europe.

The agreement, aimed at fostering cooperation between NATO and Russia, included provisions stating that neither side viewed the other as adversaries. Despite signing the Founding Act, Yeltsin maintained his reservations about NATO's future intentions and emphasized that any further enlargement should exclude former Soviet republics, particularly Ukraine.

The discussions also revealed differences between Yeltsin and Clinton regarding the transparency of negotiations and the inclusion of former Soviet states in NATO's expansion plans. While Yeltsin proposed confidential negotiations, Clinton argued for openness, believing secrecy would send negative signals internationally and unsettle Baltic states and NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

These revelations shed light on the complexities and tensions surrounding NATO-Russia relations in the late 1990s, underscoring Russia's strategic concerns and NATO's efforts to manage its enlargement while maintaining stability in Europe.



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