Friday, February 6, 2015

Fwd: Yalta

'70 years ago this week Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met in Yalta to decide post-war arrangements following the defeat of the Nazis. It is often said that it was at Yalta that the big three carved up Europe.

In fact that had already happened, to a certain extent, with the advance of Soviet forces. One thing they agreed on was that "free elections" should be held in occupied countries – a promise Stalin never upheld as he moved quickly to impose communist dictatorships everywhere.

Roosevelt later privately admitted that he and Churchill had been naive and were tricked. But on the other hand, one of their main aims was to ensure the USSR would soon join the war effort against Japan: Stalin traded that off for Soviet domination over eastern Europe. For east Europeans Yalta is a place name that became a codeword for the cynical sacrifice of small nations' freedom to great powers' spheres of influence. Russians, on the other hand, tend to only conceive of their role as that of liberators. Today, the war in Ukraine has brought the "zones of influence" debate back to Europe. There is some irony that the ongoing geopolitical struggle between Europe and Russia is centred on the country where the Yalta conference was held…

Last November Putin said the following about Russia: "We understand the fatality of an 'iron curtain' for us. We will not go down this path, no one will build a wall around us." It was newspeak at its crudest.'



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