August 30, 2019

Sept. 6, 1994


Twenty-five years ago, on September 6, 1994, The Washington Times mentioned a report released to diplomats by the United States Department of State that said the U.S. was willing and prepared to accept an expanded Russian sphere of influence that would include most of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine.

The Baltic states, the report continued, would only partially fall under Moscow’s influence. The only conditions laid down by the U.S. were that Washington’s interests not be adversely affected and that norms of international laws are upheld.

Dubbed “Yalta II” by some in the State Department – an allusion to the Yalta Conference of 1945 where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill established the geopolitical boundaries for the post-war world.

The paper was reported to have come out of the office of Peter Tarnoff, undersecretary of state, to have passed through Secretary of State Warren Christopher’s office and to have cleared the White House – The Washington Times article cited an unidentified official who quoted from the report. He said, “It is understood that a Russian sphere of influence is being recognized with Europe extending to the eastern border of Poland, leaving the Baltics somewhat up for grabs…”

He goes on, a “Russian foreign policy based on national interest and power politics is acceptable to the U.S. as long as vital U.S. interests are not adversely impacted.”

The State Department report stated that Russia could have free reign over the area given that it does not breach the standards of international law and “absent a clear and present danger of resurgent Russian imperialism.”

Supporters of the report said it was timely and a pragmatic approach to relations with Russia and to the countries of the former Soviet Union. The Times article stated that supporters applauded the timing of the paper’s release, in that Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin was due in Washington later that September.

The paper gave several reasons why the U.S. should choose a new policy direction for that part of the world. One was that it would “prevent further fragmentation of control of Russia’s nuclear forces,” Another reason recognized the decreasing U.S. military ability to police the world and the need to have others assume responsibility. However, the paper underscored that U.S. interests must continue to be protected.

No reaction was given from leaders of those countries affected by the proposed policy shift.

Given today’s geopolitical struggles that have unfolded in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria and other places thanks to Russian intervention, acknowledging a Russian sphere of influence has deadly consequences that last for generations.


Source: “U.S. appears willing to acknowledge expanded Russian sphere of influence,” The Ukrainian Weekly, September11, 1994.