You wanna know what a Communist Fifth Column looks like? Here you go: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-shifrinson-russia-us-nato-deal–20160530-snap-story.html
It has an academic, publishing a report in an academic journal, pushing a Pro-Russian lie through the deliberate omission of important historical context picked up without any sort of review by a major US newspaper….
And what is that important historical context?
All, and I mean ALL of the documents listed by Shifrinson from 1990 are leading up to something called the “2 plus 4 Treaty” which limited NATO expansion into the former East Germany, which was signed in 1991. By omitting that fact the author, and the unwitting copy editors of the LA Times who utterly failed to apply the “layers and layers of editorial oversight” which is supposed to make “professional journalists” better than bloggers, has engaged in a deliberate attempt to justify Russian aggression in Georgia, Crimea, and east Ukraine.
The other bit of important historical context is the “NATO Russia Founding Act” which was a bit of a gentleman’s agreement on how NATO would be able to accept former Warsaw Pact nations into NATO that essentially boiled down to, “NATO forces wouldn’t be permanently deployed into new NATO nations” and Russia wouldn’t be a dick.
Asking Russia not to be a dick was a bit too much to ask for given the historical reality of Russian politics.
The timeline of new entries into NATO is pretty clear. 1999, Russia isn’t too bothered. 2001, all cool. Hell even in 2009 the Russian VDV trained in the Continental US! NATO even ignores the Georgian incursion, after all Georgia isn’t a NATO ally.
What happened to change all this is that Ukraine was looking to put reformers into power, reformers that were pro-EU and pro-NATO. And to Russia, that would be as unthinkable as Belarus joining NATO, it would be an “unforgivable offense to the fatherland” because Russia had so long dominated Kiev. Essentially Russia wanted to maintain Hegemony over Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus and only Belarus was willing to play ball.
So after Ukraine started looking to reform and drift to a more pro-Western regime Russia decided that it would act, and so created a crisis which would allow it to intervene. Russians are not stupid, and so it created a crisis that wouldn’t trigger any red lines in terms of military action, only sanctions and other diplomatic responses.
But in order to justify their actions Russia needed to invent an excuse, and so like an abusive boyfriend who asks, “Baby, why do YOU make me HIT you?” Russia begins using NATO expansion as a pretext for being a dick. Now there is the Baltic Air Policing Mission, and all sorts of other ongoing reassurance measures in place.
But still, the “2 Plus 4 Treaty” is still in effect, stopping Germany from moving NATO troops into the former East Germany, and requiring diplomatic clearances to even move troops through long in advance of exercises. A treaty with which the US still complies, because it signed the treaty back in 1991. You can read more about that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_on_the_Final_Settlement_with_Respect_to_Germany
Michael Gorbachev: The topic of “NATO expansion” was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a singe Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders didn’t bring it up, either. Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces from the alliance would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement, mentioned in your question, was made in that context. Kohl and [German Vice Chancellor Hans-Dietrich] Genscher talked about it.
Everything that could have been and needed to be done to solidify that political obligation was done. And fulfilled. The agreement on a final settlement with Germany said that no new military structures would be created in the eastern part of the country; no additional troops would be deployed; no weapons of mass destruction would be placed there. It has been observed all these years. So don’t portray Gorbachev and the then-Soviet authorities as naïve people who were wrapped around the West’s finger. If there was naïveté, it was later, when the issue arose. Russia at first did not object.
Of course that is no longer the Russian position because admitting such would not be useful. Russia will continue to claim the US did not act in good faith simply because Russia has NOTHING to lose from telling this lie over and over again, and if some people believe it then Russia has gained something.