SOCHI, January 11. /TASS/. Relations, which are typical for the times of the Cold War era and still remain in the world politics, are the reasons for NATO’s continuing expansion to the East, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with German daily Bild.
The Russian president recalled how Egon Bahr, an eminent West German politician, used to describe relations between Europe, the United States, NATO and the Soviet Union.
"He was a very clever man," Putin said. "He saw a very deep meaning in this issue [of NATO’s non-expansion in Central Europe and to the East], he was confident that that the format should have been completely changed and that the times of the Cold War should be left behind. We did nothing of it."
In an interview with the German daily Putin shared with the journalists extracts of classified texts from working meetings between the Soviet and German high-ranking politicians in 1990.
"These are the texts of talks of German politicians [ex-Vice Chancellor Hans-Dietrich] Genscher, [ex-Chancellor Helmut] Kohl, [ex-Minister for Economic Cooperation Egon] Bahr with Soviet leaders [Mikhail] Gorbachev, [Valentin] Falin, who in my opinion was the head of the International Department of the Central [Communist] Committee," Putin said. "These texts were never made public in the past."
According to Putin, Bahr warned at that meeting that "If decisive steps to prevent Europe’s separation into hostile blocs were not taken during the unification of Germany, the further development would assume an unfavorable nature dooming the USSR for international isolation."
The Russian president said that Bahr at that meeting proposed certain steps, including the necessity of setting up a new union in Central Europe.
"It [Europe] should have not moved into NATO," Putin said. "All Central Europe, with or without Eastern Germany should have united into a separate union with the participation of the Soviet Union and the United States."
"But what happened in reality? The very scenario, which Bahr warned against, happened," Putin said. "He warned against the development of the military structure to the East - the North Atlantic Alliance. Something more general should have been established uniting the whole Europe."
But none of it happened and exactly the opposite development took place that he warned against - NATO’s infrastructure began moving to the East and its subsequent expansion came as a result," the Russian leader said.
"We did everything wrong starting with the first steps and we did not overcome the split of Europe. The Berlin wall collapsed 25 years ago, but the split in Europe was not resolved and the invisible walls were simply relocated to the East," Putin said adding all of that created the background for further mutual reproaches, misunderstanding and crises.
The Russian president recalled opinions stated by US and European politicians claiming that individual countries had the right of choosing their own type of proving their sovereign defense.
"Yes, we do know about it. This is true," he said. "But the truth is also that other countries are capable of making a decision whether to expand their own organization or not and to act as they believe it would have been feasible from the stance of providing the common international security."
"In this case leading NATO members could have said - no, we are glad that you want to join us, but we have no intentions of expanding our organization as we see the future of Europe in a different way," Putin said.
The Russian president added that in the last 20-25 years, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the extinction of the world’s second center of force somebody "yielded to a desire of getting an utter satisfaction from being exclusively on the peak of the world’s glory, power and wealth."
"There was also no desire at all of consulting either with the international law or with the UN Charter," Putin said. "In all cases when they posed as obstructions it was immediately declared that the UN is outdated.".