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Polish PM says ‘biggest threat is Russia’ – but Poland invaded Russia many times

Poland has long been an aggressor state against Russia, yet Poles also contributed to significantly to Russian history

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The Polish Prime minister has declared (unsurprisingly), that the greatest threat to Poland is Russia. This is a standard declaration we have come to expect from all NATO countries and their allies; according to them, no matter what the situation is, Russia is always the bad guy. Prime Minister spoke at Davos, fearing a Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Fort Rus:

“What will happen when the Russian army moves deep into Ukrainian territory is unknown. It is better to have a second and third line of defense than to remain without these kinds of weapons,”- the Polish Prime Minister said.

You could substitute the Polish PM for any western leader at this point. It wouldn’t be surprising if a tiny micro-nation in the Pacific ocean declared their greatest threat is a Russian Invasion, followed by Russian hacking and then tropical storms.

Poland however, has a long story of conflict with the Rus’ peoples (Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Carpatho-Russians). Does that mean the Polish Prime Minister was right in his assessment? Absolutely not; however this long history reveals the deep-seated roots of Russophobia in Poland.

With Fire and Sword – A Tragic History of Russo-Polish Conflict

Hatred grew in the hearts of men and poisoned the blood of brotherly peoples.” – Henryk Sienkiewicz, ‘With Fire and Sword’

That quote from the famous Polish author perfectly describes the relationship between Russia, Poland, and Ukraine for that matter. In a better world, Russians and Poles should be friends, they are both Slavic peoples, and that cultural bond should be more powerful than politics. Sadly, the history is filled with conflict.

When these three words are used in the same sentence: Poland, Russia, Invaded – the average westerner always assumes the sentence is: Russia invaded Poland. This is both the result of the Cold War, in which Russia was always portrayed as a villain in the west, and also Polish biases.

War is inherently tragic, however, in the context of Russo-Polish Wars, Polish people inherently speak as if Poland was always sinless, and Russia invaded Poland brutally and without just cause from the very beginning of their relationship. This is untrue, Poland in fact, invaded Russia long before Russian soldiers ever set foot on Polish soil in any meaningful way. Two wrongs do not make a right, it is not my intention to portray the conflicts from a moralistic point of view, casting the blame on one party or another. It is necessary, however, to understand these events from an objective, historical perspective, and the history of Russo-Polish Wars did not begin with a Russian invasion of Poland. We always hear about Russian Aggression against Poland, but the following are some major examples of Polish Aggression against Russia, long before Russian armies ever set foot in Poland.

The Polish Intervention in the Kievan Interregnum 1018

In the year 1018, taking advantage of the interregnum in Kievan Rus’ following the death of Saint Vladimir ‘Equal-to-the-Apostles’, Baptiser of All Rus’, Poland invaded Kiev. The image of famous Polish King Boleslaw the Brave entering the Golden Gate depicts the moment, and how Poland’s coronation sword got its name.

The Polish sword Szczerbiec is sometimes called the “Jagged Sword”, because the King apparently chipped the edge on the Golden Gate.

Poland intervened in support of their favored candidate for the Kievan throne, Svatopolk the Accursed Prince, at war with his brothers, of whom he already killed a few. With a name like “The Accursed”, you have to know that’s a fine and reputable member of society right there.

Sviatopolk I of Kiev.jpg

What is it with Western-allied countries constantly supporting the LEAST popular person they possibly could during a military intervention! Svatopolk is known as “Accursed” in Ukrainian histography as well, not only Russian, so let no one claim Poland was supporting the “Ukrainian” candidate. At this time in history, Russians, Ukrainians, and Belarussians were completely indistinguishable. Svatopolk was married to the daughter of the Polish King, and possibly responsible for the murder of his brothers Boris and Gleb. (Other sources claim he was their uncle)

The Polish intervention would be the equivalent of Russia invading Poland in support of their own candidate for the Polish presidency, (who happens to be married into a powerful Russian family).

The Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia 1349

Galicia-Volhn was one of the divisions of Kievan Rus’, existing on what is now Western Ukraine. Its history is long and fascinating, and beyond the scope of this article.

It’s most famous capitol was Lvov, Ukraine’s most western city, considered to be very Polish. This Old Rus’ Kingdom actually extended into small parts of eastern Poland before their lands were seized and their identity was assimilated into Poland. A Heavy Polish-Catholic influence can been seen in Western Ukraine to this day – even the dialect is Polish influenced.

Jesuit Catholic Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Lvov

In 1349, despite attempts to obtain an alliance with Poland, the westernmost Kingdom of Rus’ was invaded by Poland, ending its independence. By 1362, Kiev was conquered by Lithuania, which lettered entered into a permanent union with Poland – Rzeczpospolita – The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Poland occupied Rus’ territories (including in modern Russia) for centuries, until the great reunification of Ukraine with Russia under Hetman Bogdan Khmelnitsky in 1652. Some western lands were still occupied centuries after that.

But that was so long ago…

I realize there will be people who refuse to accept the fact that Russia is a continuation of Rus’, and others will say those other examples are far too early. One could argue that citing 11th-century events as examples of Polish aggression towards Russia would be like considering the Norman Invasion in 1066 as French Aggression against England.

It remains immature and naive to think events that occurred in the past have no effect on the modern world. The formation of a nation happens over the course of hundreds of ages, as a result, today’s wars could be affected by events centuries ago. Most of today’s issues in Europe are largely the result of WW1 (which lead to the second), and many consider the Sykes-Picot Agreement to be a source of the Middle East woes to this very day. This is part of the reason why progressivist historiography goes wrong. The idea of endless progress aside, Human civilization does not go endlessly forward with the past becoming irrelevant, history proves in many ways, we are still fighting over the same basic things today as we were in the medieval period.

Nevertheless, Poland continued to attack Russia in the Early Modern Period.

The Time of Troubles 1593-1618

The time of troubles was…well…one of the worst periods in Russian history. It stands together with the Mongol Invasion/Tatar Yoke, The Bolshevik Revolution, and the Neo-Liberal invasion of the 1990’s. Poland invaded Russia and went as far as the Moscow Kremlin…they occupied the Moscow Kremlin, and for around a decade, it looked like Russia was about to collapse.

Prince Dmitri begged to lead an army to defend Russia against Poland

There were multiple imposters claiming to be Czar (The False Dmitris), a famine which practically killed a third of the country, and roving bands of pillaging marauders everywhere…it was a very, very, very bad time.

During the Polish Occupation, they imprisoned the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Homogenous, demanding he blessed the Polish Army. When he refused, the beat and starved the elderly monk to death in a dungeon.

The Polish King Sigismund, with the help of greedy Russian Boyars who betrayed the Motherland, made a claim to the Russian Throne, seeking to incorporate all of Russia into the commonwealth. Poland already occupied the Russian city of Smolensk prior to the conflict. The Polish invasion of Russia was so brutal, peaceful monks took part in the defense of Russia.

The conflict only ended when Prince Pozharsky and Citizen Kuzma Minin helped organize an army to retake the Kremlin, and to elect a new Czar. During the election, Prince Wladyslaw of Poland was considered a candidate, and Polish influence was still strong, however, Michael Romanov was elected instead, ending the Time of Troubles. A truce was signed in 1618, but Poland still occupied Smolensk, and when Wladyslaw was later crowned, he refused to relinquish his claim to the Russian throne.

Polish Soldiers murdering Ivan Susanin who lead them into the woods to save the Czar in Glinka’s famous opera “Life for the Czar”

The Smolensk War 1632-1634

The Smolensk War was essentially a continuation of the previous unresolved hostilities. Russia attempted to reclaim Smolensk from Poland. The result was simply the status quo prior to the war, in Poland’s favor. The Polish King did renounce his claim to the Russian throne, however.

Russo-Polish War (The War for Ukraine) 1654-1667

The first major Russian offensive against Poland happened during the Khmelnitsky uprising, when the Cossacks asked their Russian brothers for aid. The famous Polish book “With Fire and Sword” was set during this time period. The final sentence of the book perfectly describes the Polish-Russian conflict:

Hatred Grew the Hearts of Men and poisoned the blood of brotherly peoples.

You can read the book here in PDF form, or watch the Polish-Ukrainian movie with English subtitles:

Hetman Bogdan Zinovii Khmelnitsky, a Russian-Ukrainian hero lead the Cossacks of Zaporozhia in full rebellion against Poland who had been occupying them and depriving them of their rights for centuries. Polish nobles had largely supported the Union of Brest in 1595-96, which created the Uniate (Catholic) Church in Ukraine. The “Unia” was just as dangerous to Russian Orthodox culture, as Polish armies were to Russian lands. Many Orthodox Churches were confiscated and forced to become Catholic, more by local Catholic magnates than the Commonwealth itself, known for its strong religious freedoms, though they did little to prevent the forced conversions.

This first major Russian victory against Poland marked the first time Moscow actively attacked Poland. The First Russo-Polish war ultimately resulted in Russia reclaiming ancient Russian land like Smolensk and Kiev long occupied by Poland-Lithuania. It was hardly an offensive of Russia against the Polish heartlands. Before Russian armies ever set foot in Poland, Polish armies had conquered the westernmost Rus’ principality, and later sacked Moscow, after occupying Kiev for centuries.

Russia begins to expand

Poland began its steady decline after a series of foreign invasions. The Swedes destroyed hundreds of Polish cities and churches during the Deluge, and sacked Warsaw. No one today speaks of Swedish aggression against Poland. Between 1772-1795, Poland was partitioned thrice, and the final time, she ceased to exist as a state. While Russia did take a portion of Poland, the country was equally partitioned by Prussia and Habsburg Austrian Empire. Russia had been invaded by Poland numerous times prior to these tragic partitions.

The Patriotic War of 1812 (Napoleonic Wars)

A little-known fact is that Polish troops played a major role in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, particularly at Smolensk. The fact that Russians and Polish-Lithuanian troops have been fighting for Smolensk since the Middle Ages proves the cyclical nature of human civilization. Poles fought for Napoleon with the hopes of the resurrection of Poland. The Polish national anthem even mentions how the nation will be reformed:

March, march, Dąbrowski,
From the Italian land to Poland.
Under your command
We shall rejoin the nation.
We’ll cross the Vistula, we’ll cross the Warta,
We shall be Polish.
Bonaparte has given us the example
Of how we should prevail.

Every Russian soul can understand what it means to fight for the survival of your Motherland, especially when its fellow Slavs fighting. This is just another example of the many times Polish troops spilled Russian blood during an invasion of Russia.

In Our Time

The details of the Great Patriotic War are worthy of their own articles, as volumes could be written about them. Regardless of how the war began, their fellow Slavs in the Red Army liberated Poland from Nazi Germany. Russian and Polish soldiers died fighting side by side in WW2.

In the photo above, Russian Marshal Zhukov and Polish Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky of the CCCP greet Marshal Montgomery in Berlin, after the Soviet Union won the war in 1945. Another famous Polish-Russian was the father of the Russian space program which put the first man in space, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky.

Tsiolkovsky.jpg

If any Poles hold Soviet security services responsible for anti-polish actions, they should consider the founder of the first Soviet secret service was also Polish (Dzerzhinsky).

Despite all the conflicts, from a Russian perspective, one can consider the Polish peoples (not the governments) to be brothers.

Now, in a most cynical act, Poland has been demolishing red army memorials, an act which Russia considers highly Russophobic. Not all Poles agree with those moves, and a group of Polish activists has vowed to protect the monuments to their shared Slavic history, as RT covered in a great video.

In conclusion, history has revealed that the long history of conflict between Poland and Russia was initiated by Poland. Poland invaded Kiev in the 11th century, and occupied Ukraine until the 17th when they captured Moscow during Russia’s Time of Troubles. It was only after the 17th century did Russian soldiers ever set foot on Polish soil. Poland started historical conflicts, Russia merely reacted to them, and finally won, after taking heavy losses early on.

This is not to blame Poland, but rather to end the one-sided discussion of Russian-Polish history as if Russia is always the aggressor and Poland is an innocent victim. The time has long come to set aside the age-old conflicts.

Destroying Soviet monuments and crying about imaginary Russian aggression in the 21st century doesn’t help anyone but those who want Slavic peoples to continue fighting instead of uniting.

When the Polish Primer Minister speaks about the imaginary Russian threat to Poland, he fails to realize a greater and real threat is this endless hatred of Russia in Poland. The Russophobia is making it impossible to move on to friendly, normal relations.

The past is the past, both nations have invaded each other, and for the sake of Polish and Russian children, the hatred needs to end.

The conflict between the two Slavic peoples is best understood by the words of a famous Polish Author Henryk Sienkiewicz:

Hatred grew in the hearts of men and poisoned the blood of brotherly peoples. ~ Nienawiść wrosła w serca i zatruła krew pobratymczą ~ Ненависть вросла в сердца и отравила кровь двух братских народов. – With Fire and Sword

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Russian Hierarch explains Ukrainian issue in detail (VIDEO)

A Russian Orthodox Hierarch explores the incursion of earthly politics into the life, pastoral activity and needs of the Orthodox Church.

Seraphim Hanisch

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RT’s “Worlds Apart” interview program recently interviewed Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev), a hierarch who heads the Department of External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church. The Duran has covered the crisis in Ukraine surrounding the activity of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, of Constantinople, intended to create a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. This effort falls completely outside the normal and authorized operating procedures of the Orthodox Church, but to the lay listener it is difficult to understand what the fuss really is all about.

Metropolitan Hilarion and Oksana Boyko do an excellent job with both the answers, but more importantly, the questions, since Ms. Boyko asks the questions that someone who knows nothing about the Church might ask. This situation is completely about politics and not about the true work of the Church, and Met. Hilarion answers these questions very completely and thoroughly.

One of the really interesting points that Met. Hilarion makes is the idea that the Ecumenical Patriarch seeks to bring about the creation of a fully independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church from these four groups:

  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (which is canonical and which has not requested self-rule, called autocephaly
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Church “Kyiv Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko, which is a completely schismatic group. This group, and Filaret, are leading the charge.
  • The Ukrainian Orthodox Autocephalous Church – another schismatic group that is not in communion with Filaret’s church
  • The Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine – and this is truly interesting, because this group is not even Orthodox, but is an Eastern Rite group under the Pope of Rome, and is in fact Roman Catholic.

The notion of bringing together such a disparity of groups is stunning to the Metropolitan, and yet he understands the motives of the men driving this idea, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, Patriarch Bartholomew, and Filaret Denisenko.

While the United States is not mentioned in this interview in any prominent sense, it should be noted that this move also does have strong US support as the American political leadership has been advocating for the Poroshenko government in an effort to continue to surround and isolate Russia. As we have noted elsewhere, this series of moves may well create more problems for Russia, by design.

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Putin Keeps Cool and Averts WWIII as Israeli-French Gamble in Syria Backfires Spectacularly

Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

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Authored by Robert Bridge via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


By initiating an attack on the Syrian province of Latakia, home to the Russia-operated Khmeimim Air Base, Israel, France and the United States certainly understood they were flirting with disaster. Yet they went ahead with the operation anyways.

On the pretext that Iran was preparing to deliver a shipment of weapon production systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israeli F-16s, backed by French missile launches in the Mediterranean, destroyed what is alleged to have been a Syrian Army ammunition depot.

What happened next is already well established: a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, which the Israeli fighter jets had reportedly used for cover, was shot down by an S-200 surface-to-air missile system operated by the Syrian Army. Fifteen Russian servicemen perished in the incident, which could have been avoided had Israel provided more than just one-minute warning before the attack. As a result, chaos ensued.

Whether or not there is any truth to the claim that Iran was preparing to deliver weapon-making systems to Hezbollah in Lebanon is practically a moot point based on flawed logic. Conducting an attack against an ammunition depot in Syria – in the vicinity of Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base – to protect Israel doesn’t make much sense when the consequence of such “protective measures” could have been a conflagration on the scale of World War III. That would have been an unacceptable price to achieve such a limited objective, which could have been better accomplished with the assistance of Russia, as opposed to NATO-member France, for example. In any case, there is a so-called “de-confliction system” in place between Israel and Russia designed to prevent exactly this sort of episode from occurring.

And then there is the matter of the timing of the French-Israeli incursion.

Just hours before Israeli jets pounded the suspect Syrian ammunition storehouse, Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan were in Sochi hammering out the details on a plan to reduce civilian casualties as Russian and Syrian forces plan to retake Idlib province, the last remaining terrorist stronghold in the country. The plan envisioned the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone between government and rebel forces, with observatory units to enforce the agreement. In other words, it is designed to prevent exactly what Western observers have been fretting about, and that is unnecessary ‘collateral damage.’

So what do France and Israel do after a relative peace is declared, and an effective measure for reducing casualties? The cynically attack Syria, thus exposing those same Syrian civilians to the dangers of military conflict that Western capitals proclaim to be worried about.

Israel moves to ‘damage control’

Although Israel has taken the rare move of acknowledging its involvement in the Syrian attack, even expressing “sorrow” for the loss of Russian life, it insists that Damascus should be held responsible for the tragedy. That is a highly debatable argument.

By virtue of the fact that the French and Israeli forces were teaming up to attack the territory of a sovereign nation, thus forcing Syria to respond in self-defense, it is rather obvious where ultimate blame for the downed Russian plane lies.

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, took admirable efforts to prevent the blame game from reaching the boiling point, telling reporters that the downing of the Russian aircraft was the result of “a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”

Nevertheless, following this extremely tempered and reserved remark, Putin vowed that Russia would take extra precautions to protect its troops in Syria, saying these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

Now there is much consternation in Israel that the IDF will soon find its freedom to conduct operations against targets in Syria greatly impaired. That’s because Russia, having just suffered a ‘friendly-fire’ incident from its own antiquated S-200 system, may now be more open to the idea of providing Syria with the more advanced S-300 air-defense system.

Earlier this year, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached an agreement that prevented those advanced defensive weapons from being employed in the Syrian theater. That deal is now in serious jeopardy. In addition to other defensive measures, Russia could effectively create the conditions for a veritable no-fly zone across Western Syria in that it would simply become too risky for foreign aircraft to venture into the zone.

The entire situation, which certainly did not go off as planned, has forced Israel into damage control as they attempt to prevent their Russian counterparts from effectively shutting down Syria’s western border.

On Thursday, Israeli Major-General Amikam Norkin and Brigadier General Erez Maisel, as well as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force will pay an official visit to Moscow where they are expected to repeat their concerns of “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.”

Moscow will certainly be asking their Israeli partners if it is justifiable to subject Russian servicemen to unacceptable levels of danger, up to and including death, in order to defend Israeli interests. It remains to be seen if the two sides can find, through the fog of war, an honest method for bringing an end to the Syria conflict, which would go far at relieving Israel’s concerns of Iranian influence in the region.

 

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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