Forwarded from Rick Rozoff (Putin on Nato)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jun 16 12:27:32 MDT 2001


June 16, 2001
Putin Cites 1954 NATO Document
By The Associated Press

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed NATO expansion Saturday by
dusting off a 47-year-old document in which the Soviet Union appealed for
membership in the alliance -- and was flatly turned down.

When President Bush invited Putin to answer a reporter's question on the
alliance's expansion, Putin appeared to ignore him. As Bush stared at him
expectantly, Putin silently flipped through the papers as if reading them
for the first time.

''I'm going to lay it out for you,'' Putin finally said, prompting a
chuckle from Bush.

''This Soviet government announces its intention to enter into discussions
with NATO countries about its participation in NATO with the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization,'' Putin said, reading from the document.

The Soviets proposed in March 1954 that they join NATO on the condition the
West abandon a planned European Defense Community. The Soviets argued that
allowing them into NATO could end the Cold War by reuniting the anti-Hitler
forces of World War II.

The United States, Britain and France immediately dismissed the proposal as
a scheme meant to undermine NATO.

Putin read aloud what he said was NATO's rejection: ''There is no need to
stress the completely unrealistic nature of such a proposal from the Soviet
Union.''

The Russian president said he received a similar rebuff a year ago when he
raised the possibility anew with then-Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright. ''Look, we're not talking about this right now,'' he quoted
Albright as saying.

NATO admission apparently off the table, Putin said Saturday he appreciated
Bush's overtures of partnership to Russia.

''When the president of a great power says he wants to see Russia as a
partner and maybe even as an ally, this is worth so much to us,'' he said.

But he also sounded a note of concern: ''Look, this is a military
organization,'' he said. ''It's moving towards our border. Why?''


Louis Proyect
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