Updates: 31.03.2021 11:34
Released: 31.03.2021, 11:34
MOSCOW – The break-up of the Warsaw Pact was inevitable, but the then Soviet leadership, led by Mikhail Gorbachev, “made a huge mistake” by failing to make a clear commitment with NATO members before NATO expired to expand to the East. This was stated by the Russian historian Mikhail Mjagkov in an extensive interview published by the RIA Novosti agency today on the 30th anniversary of the expiry of the Warsaw Pact. In addition to the Soviet Union, Albania, which emerged in 1968, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and East Germany, were members of the former military alliance, formed as a counterweight to NATO.
“The Soviet leadership has basically made a huge mistake. It has catered to the West without securing the key interests of the Soviet Union and its legal successor, the Russian Federation,” Myagkov said. In his opinion, Gorbachev had every opportunity to conclude an official agreement with NATO at the time, but due to his overconfidence, he did not do so. “If an agreement was reached with NATO then, it would be much more difficult for the alliance to move its infrastructure to the east,” the Russian historian said.
However, he considers the end of the Warsaw Pact to be lawful: due to the weakening of the Soviet Union, Eastern European countries were leaning towards the West, and German unification did not give a chance to uphold the Warsaw Pact. “Gorbachev agreed and became the ‘best German of the year.’ In essence, the Soviet Union has renounced political support for Eastern European countries,” Mjagkov said. In retrospect, according to him, it turns out that only the West won, which gained the buffer zone of Eastern European countries. However, according to him, the vast majority of them were not able to significantly increase the living standards of their inhabitants or achieve more significant development, they lag behind the most developed Western states and now also China. The region remains a pendant for the West, which demands more money, but only for NATO infrastructure, not for economic development. In addition, these states are said to be on the brink of a possible conflict with Russia, but they got into this situation on their own, says the Russian historian.
“Sooner or later, they will question whether they needed it at all and whether the permanent neutrality of Austria and Switzerland would be better. These questions will emerge more and more as the economies of these countries stagnate, which is inevitable because they have taken loans from Western countries and will have to repay them, because the West is not the Soviet Union, which forgave debts and basically fed some of its allies, “says Myagkov.
The Warsaw Pact was formally established in 1955 in response to allowing West Germany to join NATO. During the Cold War, it was an important tool for Moscow, allowing it to control its Eastern European satellites, sometimes by force. After the collapse of the political Eastern bloc, however, the military one also ended quickly. The withdrawal of Soviet troops from former satellites and the bloody events in the Baltics in January 1991 also contributed to the agony. politicians definitively ended with their signatures in the Černín Palace in Prague on July 1, 1991, where representatives of Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the USSR met.