The Soviet days are long gone


Re “Putin’s NATO beef,” editorial, Feb. 13

One of the low points of the 20th century came at Yalta, when the Allies acquiesced to a Soviet sphere of influence over the eastern half of Europe.

By contrast, one of the 20th century’s happiest moments came late, when Josef Stalin’s line was erased in favor of a Europe whole, free and at peace. Europeans fought for and found freedom. To our credit, the United States and Western Europe helped. And this liberation, we pledged, would be complete, not sacrificed. We promised Europe’s new sovereign democracies that they would decide their own fate. So when they asked to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- and proved able to shoulder the responsibilities of membership -- they were welcomed.

With this history, I was surprised by The Times editorial siding with President Vladimir V. Putin, who argued, in effect, that Russia deserved to recoup the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. This view is baffling. Nothing in today’s NATO or EU threatens or damages Russia. Strong democracies make good neighbors. We hope Russia will come to agree. But in no event will we cut a deal with Russia at the expense of free people in Europe. One Yalta was enough.



Assistant Secretary of State

for European and

Eurasian Affairs