The election of Donald Trump has unleashed a political earthquake whose magnitude the entire world is urgently trying to gauge. The list of concerns is far reaching, but for many, the most pressing is whether Trump’s alliance with Putin is a threat to democracy and freedom across Europe.
To international observers, the question comes down to whether Trump is about to carry out a grand betrayal, known to many as “Yalta 2.0.”
The term refers to a historic meeting held in 1945, the final days of World War II between the Allies. Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met in the Black Sea resort of Yalta, in Crimea, to decide the fate of post-war Europe.
During the meeting, the world leaders carved out the continent for what was supposed to be a period leading to democracy. What came out of Yalta, however, was a divided Europe, with the Soviet Union imposing repressive Communist regimes throughout its sphere of influence for nearly half a century.”
CNN highlights the fact that Eastern Europeans felt “betrayed and abandoned.” Since that time, the United States has been trying to atone for Yalta by backing efforts to develop democratic institutions, pledging to defend the new countries from aggression, and opening the doors of NATO to independent nations wishing to strengthen ties with the West.
However, that policy, along with America’s overall commitment to the spread of democracy, human rights, and free markets, appears in doubt since Trump’s election. After all, Trump has vowed to destroy NATO and reset in relations with Moscow.
As the network states:
“Russia’s aggressive moves against Ukraine, its repeated taunts and warnings to other countries, and it’s muscular military, cyber, and propaganda moves beyond it’s borders have raised alarm, particularly in the Baltic States.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin himself declared he seeks a “New Yalta” during a speech he gave in Crimea in 2014, after Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula.
Just before Trump took office, NATO deployed forces in Poland to deter Russia. Poland’s defense minister declared the move meant that “Yalta is over.” But within a week Trump won the election and things have moved in the opposite direction.
Since Trump’s victory, talks of a “New Yalta,” has been buzzing in Russia In fact, the fear of a Yalta 2.0 is so palpable that Poland’s Foreign Minister traveled to Washington before the inauguration and tried to reassure his people that “there will not be a new Yalta,” acco
It’s clear what Putin wants. His vision of Yalta 2.0 is an agreement in which Russia regains control of former Soviet Republics without US or NATO interference, and perhaps extending a version of that power over former Eastern European countries. He wants NATO to become weaker. He wants the sanctions lifted. He wants the US to recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. In short, he wants the U.S. to turn a blind eye on many of its values, and approve Russia’s violation of international law.
Sadly, Trump may give Putin all that and more.
As CNN writes, “of the many looming unknowns in Trump presidency, few have the potential to alter the course of history more than a possible Yalta 2.0”