''I tried to put Russia on another path''. Bill Clinton
When I first became president, I said that I would support Russian President Boris Yeltsin in his efforts to build a good economy and a functioning democracy after the dissolution of the Soviet Union—but I would also support an expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact members and post-Soviet states. My policy was to work for the best while preparing for the worst. 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?
If Russia stayed on a path toward democracy and cooperation, we would all be together in meeting the security challenges of our time: terrorism; ethnic, religious, and other tribal conflicts; and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. If Russia chose to revert to ultranationalist imperialism, an enlarged NATO and a growing European Union would bolster the continent’s security. Near the end of my second term, in 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO despite Russian opposition. The alliance gained 11 more members under subsequent administrations, again over Russian objections.
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