May 17, 2022 - Finland’s parliament has signed off on the plan to seek membership in NATO alongside Sweden. The two are applying for entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to deter aggression from Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine, saying his “special operation” was a preemptive move to terminate NATO’s “endless” expansion in Russia’s perceived sphere of influence -- Eastern Europe and former-Soviet republics.
Writing in the April 7, 2022, issue of The Atlantic, former U.S. President Bill Clinton reveals that as long ago as 1994, he supported Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s efforts to build a strong economy and a functioning democracy after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“My policy was to work for the best while preparing for the worst,” wrote Clinton.
“I was worried not about a Russian return to communism, but about a return to ultranationalism, replacing democracy and cooperation with aspirations to empire, like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. I didn’t believe Yeltsin would do that, but who knew what would come after him?”
In 1994, Russia became the first country to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace, a programme for practical bilateral cooperation, including joint training exercises between NATO and non-NATO European countries.
“In 1997, we supported the NATO-Russia Founding Act, which gave Russia a voice but not a veto in NATO affairs, and supported Russia’s entry to the G7, making it the G8.”
In 1999, at the end of the Kosovo conflict, U.S. Secretary of Defence Bill Cohen reached an agreement with the Russian defence minister under which Russian troops could join UN-sanctioned NATO peacekeeping forces.
“Throughout it all, we left the door open for Russia’s eventual membership in NATO,” Clinton emphasised. “Something I made clear to Yeltsin and later confirmed to his successor, Vladimir Putin.”