tv Book Discussion CSPAN August 23, 2014 4:51pm-5:20pm EDT
and so i want to say, what about others? i talked a little bit about them and so why russia should do this when it comes to economic performance and what would be happening. so what about gorbachev? he was trying to talk about his position that he was not the only person that was trying to do that. and so many of those people say mike they wanted the consideration and more or less it is the same number of disciplines to continue and will go on and that is a personal
relationship where they come to the plate. so they could not imagine any kind of arrangement where he would be under him. so the second-largest republic is the ukraine and they voted on december 1 of 1991 and only 90% of those who voted supported ukrainian independence. the result came as a surprise to many people especially gorbachev and the reason was in march of 1991 there was another were 30% voted for this union and to what happened there two well, first
of all it was a political collapse of the soviet union between march and december of 1991 areas but the second main reason was it was led by the president at that time and they were not interested in a new kind of union experience and so he came to power and they worked for this in the ukraine and then cursed jeff was replaced by another product of them in this includes something that didn't
happen. and so then there is a line between the two largest groups and there was a management between the russians and ukrainians and really the conflict became a part of this. so the ukraine votes for independence, why the soviet union falls apart almost immediately after that. well, telephone conversations have been a part of this now and the bush library is a fantastic resource and so he explains that the question is why an otherwise we will be outvoted and
outnumbered and it would be two republics against three or four muslims. and that was the position that he took immediately and it was before the coup, that is the position and russia on its own is not prepared to do that. and that is exactly what has happened in belarus in december december 1991 and the notion content negotiation between them, they started from the reentry. and then it force fields and said that we are not coming
from. and they are preparing what has happened and it is just an empty shell and they suggest that they are not interested either. but they were almost pushed out of that crumbling empire. russia decided it's not interested in the empire, but the central asian republics is them on the 21st of december of
1991 and so what i want to say and this includes to date in the region and the russian ukrainian conflicts rooted not because of the politics of the united states but because there are two parts of the union, russia and ukraine couldn't agree on this. and what we see now is now 23 or 24 years later. russia signs this and the leader
was also invited in belarus in december of 1991 for a number of reasons. so there is a clear gap there and that gap is ukraine and what you saw over this period over the last year, that was in many ways an attempt to get the ukraine on board. and now the two regions are very much also part of 1991. ..
[inaudible] if these countries leave the soviet union, what that would mean. that would mean the end of the, that would mean the end of agreements that russia had with those republics regarding the borders. borders would not be recognized anymore. and areas like cry here ya and -- [inaudible] -- crimea and -- [inaudible] would be claimed by russia. it didn't work the way yeltsin had envisioned in august of 1991, the reason was the rebellion of the republics. not only ukraine declared independence, but every other republic declared inagainst at that time -- independence at that time, and the united states didn't want that to happen. after that, yeltsin changes the course. but this particular -- these particular regions were already there from the very beginning. another point linking events of 1991 and today's event that i
want to make was about the question of what drives putin's policy in the area today, whether this is really the way how the united states and the nato countries are moving into the neighborhood, or there is, there is something else. and my take on that is that it should be something else. very often what is mentioned as the reason for unhappiness is the -- [inaudible] given to -- [inaudible] after the reunification of germany. history is a funny thing, you can go into history and find almost everything what you want to find there. first of all, except the document that everyone -- [inaudible] written. you go to september of 1991, and
you can see yeltsin and secretary of state james baker discussing the issue of possible russian membership in nato. so you can manipulate history to make point on this episode or that episode. so what drives putin's policy, it is the idea of recreation. not the soviet union, not in the form how it existed, but the recreation of a if not commonwealth, then certainly a space that would be dominated by russia. the vision that is already there in september and october of 1991 and that waited to be happen for longer period of time. and last but not least, it seems to me already two minutes over my time, but i know that this question will be asked anyway, so i'll answer it whether it is asked or not, and that's the question what we can learn from the crisis of 1991 and what the
united states maybe can borrow from the arsenal and today's administration can borrow from the arsenal of george h.w. bush. one thing that worked really very well back in 1991, that's the u.s. policy to take onboard western europe and all major west european players at that time; germany, france, canada. bush was on telephone all the time during the coup in moscow in august and then leading to the ukrainian referendum and then immediately after that building this alliance. so when bush spoke at that time, that meant for all major players in the region that that was a unified position of the west. so that's why in this --
[inaudible] in belarus when they a agreed to dissolve the soviet union, yeltsin and the leaders of belarus and ukraine, the first call goes not to gorbachev, the first call goes to the united states, and it was very clear that bush was speaking on behalf of the west in general. it was very different from the way how the disintegration of yugoslavia was handled when germany was playing its own policy, and the united states was playing its own policy. so this unity of western countries, of course, it's much easier to say than to achieve it. but that turned out to be something really important back in 1991, assuring a peaceful or relatively peaceful demise of the empire. one can look at these events and say that, actually, the demise of empire is not over yet, that what we see is maybe last chapter of the last chapters of the same story. and i want -- [inaudible] so if you want to know the
beginning of the story, buy the book -- [laughter] and sometimes i heard that buying is the moral equivalent of reading. [laughter] so thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much. that was a fascinating description of what happened to the present. so i'd like, when i call on you, i just want to remind you to, please, stand up and wait until the microphone comes to you and introduce yours. we'll start -- yourself. we'll start over here. >> thank you for your intriguing tales. a follow up. first -- >> could you introduce yourself, please? >> susan gettingson. oh, i was so caught up with your tale. in putin's new union, he apparently wants to have political ties, but reports are that the other two members want to restrict this to an economic
union. and secondly, since you are from the ukraine, what are the prospects of the ukraine ever coming back together with the crimea and the east and so forth? what is the future? >> well, thanks, thanks for these questions. i'll start with the second question which was ukraine. we are not sure, we don't know what will happen in eastern ukraine. what we know the way how things are turning out is that vladimir putin was talking about so-called -- [inaudible] the seven or eight regions of ukraine that would include donbas but also southern areas -- [inaudible] there were provocations in all
of those regions. what we see today is that the conflict zone is -- [inaudible] so it is -- [inaudible] and it is too early to say what will happen there. my hope is that when on the 7th of june ukraine gets its legitimate president -- now we don't have really, we have interim president -- that the situation change on the ground in ukraine but also the situation change internationally. we'll see whether that will happen or not, but that is my hope. in terms of the crimea, crimea for the first time that happened since the beginning of world war ii the region was not just invaded. the region was annexed, it was attached to another country, to another -- so this is, again, for the first time happening in 60 or 70 years of european history. so crimean situation is
different. if ukraine succeeds in its attempts the to join europe -- to join europe, not necessarily joining european union, but bringing in business practices, so joining europe in that way crimea would follow sooner or later. and the reason for that is not ethnic composition. the reason for that is geography. so most of the supplies to crimea, they come from mainland that happen to be ukraine. there is a talk now that russia tries to change geography by building a bridge between the region of russian federation and the crimea. but as long as we have the geography as it is now, it would be really difficult for crimea to exist and effectively function without close cooperation with ukraine. and if we see ukraine really succeeding in terms of its reforms, not sinking into corruption and not going the way
of authoritarian regimes of russia, belarus and kazahkstan, i think that the chances in the longer perspective are good for crimea coming back. so there is one big if, whether ukraine succeeds or not on that road. in terms of the economic union, well, what we see now is something that is built on the foundations of another union which was customs union. so now it's a new level is built. and we also have military union that is there. all what is common about these unions is that they're not just russia-driven, but they're russia-controlled. and it's russia who is the part of the union that is mostly interested in adding members. it's a very different story from the european union, right? it's the members who are knocking on the doors of european union. here it's russia knocking on the doors of the potential members.
and, again, the idea is not recreation of the soviet union. again, that's, that's -- this is not, this is not the agenda. but the idea is of creation of a very integrated economically and political space that would be controlled by russia. thank you for the questions. >> richard been. [inaudible] international journal of intelligence. in your book on yalta, you dealt a lot with how roosevelt and churchill had to play into stalin's desires. they didn't really understand what he was after. in your current book -- i did buy the book, and i'm enjoying it -- you dealt with george bush and scocroft and how they dealt with gorbachev. now how do you deal with this administration and its attempt to understand with what putin is trying to do there?
do we really understand what he's up to? >> well, thanks, and thanks for this also idea. i never thought about comparing fdr and bush sr. in the way how they handled the soviet union. they handled, of course, very differently. what can i say about the current administration? in my yalta book, i'm telling the story of fdr sending one after another ambassadors the moscow. they all come with this idea that they can work as a moscow. -- as moscow. so admiral harmon is one of them. and as anti-russian or or anti-soviet as one can imagine. and it seems to me that the story of admiral harmon and
ambassadors before him and after him is also the story is of the current administration. they never were sent to moscow, but they were sitting in washington with this idea that, okay, if there is a little bit of goodwill, we can, we can do that, we can work with russia. and what we see now with ambassador that just returned relatively recently from moscow when you look at the language that is used by the administration, they're at the stage when add marl harmon -- admiral harmon after stalin's refusal to support the polish uprising in 1944 went very anti-stalin. so that's where current administration is at this point, in my opinion. thanks, thanks for your question. >> phillip -- [inaudible] i have two questions. number one, i wanted to know why
anyone would want to go into an alliance with belarus which i understand is still a stalinist dictatorship. and the other question is what is khrushchev -- gorbachev now thought of in russia? >> well, for gorbachev that was maybe a moment of triumph maybe with the crimea. and he went public saying i told you so, i told you. you didn't listen to me 23 years ago. that what happened maybe didn't happen in 1991, it's happening now, and the reason it is happening is because of the dissolution of the soviet union happened in such awful way, and the people were put in the situation where they had to face the facts. because gorbachev was advocating the old union referendum at that time. so that was his last kind of position. so that is on gorbachev. in terms of belarus and belarus
being possibly a last european dictatorship, well, if you are either in position of putin -- [inaudible] who run quite authoritarian regimes themselves, i don't think that the way that a dictator really registers much and influences your decision in that, in that matter. in terms of other reasons, it's first of all gee political -- geopolitical position of belarus. certainly being on the border with e.u., with nato, certainlying with one of the -- certainly being one of the corridors with supplying natural gas of europe to ukraine. it's difficult to predict what would happen there including from mr. putin. so the more difficult things for
russia are in ukraine the heart is the stake of belarus and that geopolitical game. >> other here. over here. >> hi. ron barron gln beim. i'm reminded in this talk of something i read once that history rather than geography is about maps, and history is about chaps. so let's talk about chaps for a second. and i remember at least that, oh, in 991 most -- 1991 most of the energy that i was aware of in terms of dealing with the post-soviet world was to focus on direct relationships with russia and encouraging reform and so on.
and now if i'd been asleep for 23 years, and some people might say that i have -- [laughter] i would wake up and see that estonia was in nato, i mean, you know? i think i got it wrong on a jeopardy question recently because apparently albania is in nato too. so we had that critical choice to make between dealing directly with russia or prying loose these neighboring states. so how much of what is going on is attributable to that fateful choice that the authoritarian leaders of russia and kazahkstan and belarus are just terrified that this is going to infect, infect their world and feel encircled and this is their,
this is their way of dealing with this? and one of the manifestations is the tremendous reidollization of stalin in all parts of that world. >> right. certainly, the russian leadership -- i'm not sure as kazakh leadership. it plays a different game. but russian leadership decided at some point, i think that happened at the time of the wars in yugoslavia, that the relationship with the west will not be relationship of allies. those would be potentially confrontational relationships. and that, that take on where russia goes and where the west goes now influences the position of russia. so what they're trying to create
they try to create military, political and economic union that would compete with your european union, nato on the one hand and china on the other hand. that is the way how i see them looking at that. in terms of the authoritarian regimes, ukraine -- not estonia, not las via, not lithuania -- but ukraine creates a major challenge to that kind of arrangement, authoritarian arrangement that exists in russia today. because good half of ukraine speaks russian. in terms of many elements, not all, but many elements of political culture, they're very close. and many pro-democratic activists in russia look at ukraine and kiev with hope that this middle class that has ability to modellize itself without support from