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Putin: At End of Cold War, European Statesman Warned of Division of Europe

German statesman Egon Bahr had warned against NATO expansion

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

Originally Appeared at Sputnik Deutschland. Translated from the German by Susan Neumann

The division in Europe was not overcome by the fall of the Berlin Wall. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the opposite was achieved by creating preconditions for subsequent misunderstandings, mutual allegations, and crises.

"From the beginning, we failed to overcome Europe’s division," Putin said in the interview with the German newspaper Bild.

"Twenty-five years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, but invisible walls were moved to the East of Europe. This has led to mutual misunderstandings and assignments of guilt, out of which all current crises have evolved.”

Putin also recalled the words of former Secretary General of NATO, Manfred Wörner, who had “guaranteed that NATO would not expand eastwards after the fall of the Wall. Many German politicians had also warned about such a step, for instance Egon Bahr,”  says Putin.

Putin also added that he found in the archives never-before-published transcripts of conversations between members of the Soviet state leadership and German politicians, among them Egon Bahr. Putin quoted from the transcript from June 26, 1990:

“If we do not now undertake clear steps to prevent a division of Europe, this will lead to Russia’s isolation.”

To avert this danger, Bahr had had a very concrete proposal in mind:

"the USA, the then Soviet Union, and all concerned states should redefine a zone in Central Europe that would not be accessible to NATO with its military structures,” quoted Putin.

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