Richard Nixon predicted Ukraine conflict in 1994 – WSJ

Lazy eyes listen


According to a letter made public last week, former US President Richard Nixon warned his successor Bill Clinton over 30 years ago that Ukraine may descend into bloodshed, while also anticipating huge political changes in Russia.

The late president provided his perspective on the unpredictable post-Soviet political scene in a seven-page letter dated March 21, 1994, and cited by the Wall Street Journal shortly after returning from a trip to Russia and Ukraine.

Nixon called Ukraine “indispensable” and cautioned that the situation was “highly explosive.” “If it is allowed to spiral out of control, it will make Bosnia look like a PTA garden party,” he added, alluding to the ethnic strife in the Balkans that lasted from 1992 to 1995 and claimed the lives of thousands.

The former president lamented the country’s “unpredictable” political climate, saying “the Ukrainian parliament… is even worse than the Russian Duma.” He encouraged Clinton to beef up the US diplomatic presence in Ukraine and prioritize assistance for Kiev.

Nixon also stated that then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s political clout had “rapidly deteriorated,” adding that “the days of his unquestioned leadership of Russia are numbered.” He also noted that Yeltsin began to indulge in longer drinking sessions and could no longer keep his promises to Western leaders in “an increasingly anti-American environment in the [State] Duma and throughout the country.”

The former US president was unsure who would succeed Yeltsin, but said Russia’s anti-Western forces may create a “credible candidate for president.” Yeltsin stepped down in late 1999, and Vladimir Putin took over as President.

Ukraine-Russia relations dramatically worsened in 2014, following a Western-backed coup in Kiev and the outbreak of hostilities in Donbass. On February 24, 2022, Russia launched soldiers into the neighboring country, alleging Kiev’s inability to fulfill the Minsk agreements, which were supposed to provide the Donetsk and Lugansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The protocols were first signed in 2014, after being mediated by Germany and France. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has later stated that the truce was mostly intended to gain time and “create powerful armed forces.”

The Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as autonomous entities just before the present conflict began and demanded that Ukraine publicly declare itself a neutral country that would never join any Western military bloc. Following referendums, Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, were annexed into Russia in September.