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Richard Nixon’s letter to President Clinton proves prophetic about Russia.

A month before his death in April 1994, former President Richard Nixon wrote a letter to then-President Bill Clinton in what Clinton later called “wise advice, especially regarding Russia.” The contents of the letter have now been declassified by the Clinton Presidential Library and appear to be prophetic.

In a seven-page letter, dated March 21, 1994, and discussed by history professor Luke Nichter. The Wall Street Journal, Nixon bluntly assessed the political situation in Russia, correctly predicting that relations between Moscow and Kiev would deteriorate and that a Putin-like figure might come to power. Nixon, then 81, wrote the letter after returning from a two-week trip to Russia and Ukraine.

Although the former president is infamous for leaving the White House amid scandal in 1974, his legacy also includes architecting détente with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In 1972, Nixon became the first US president to visit Moscow, where he signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev. Nixon spent the later years of his presidency making foreign visits on behalf of the United States and offering advice based on decades of experience guiding American policy in the post-Cold War era.

Nixon considered the survival of political and economic freedom in Russia “the most important foreign policy issue facing the nation for the balance of this century.” With this understanding, he told Clinton that based on what he saw in Russia, a new democracy led by former Russian President Boris Yeltsin was at risk.

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President Richard Nixon delivers a victory speech at a rally shortly after being elected to a second term by a landslide. (Bateman/Getty Images)

Nixon wrote, “As one of Yeltsin’s first supporters in this country and an admirer of his leadership in the past, I have reluctantly concluded that his situation has deteriorated sharply since the December election, and that his days of undisputed leadership of Russia are numbered.” “His alcoholism is chronic and his periods of depression are frequent. Most troubling is that he can no longer keep his promises to you and other Western leaders in Douma and the increasingly anti-American atmosphere in the country.”

Nixon predicted that relations between Russia and Ukraine would be severed. He described the situation in Ukraine as “very explosive”.

“If this is allowed to get out of control, it will make Bosnia look like a PTA garden party,” Nixon told Clinton.

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President Richard Nixon talks to Leonid Brezhnev.

President Richard Nixon speaks with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev at Camp David, Maryland on June 20, 1973. (Dirk Halstead/Contact)

The former president advised Clinton to strengthen the U.S. diplomatic presence in Kiev, citing conversations with American businessmen who complained that the embassy was “understaffed and inadequately led.”

Nixon urged Clinton to develop relationships with Yeltsin’s potential successors. “Bush made the mistake of sticking with Gorbachev too long because of his close personal relationship. You should avoid making the same mistake in your very good personal relationship with Yeltsin,” he wrote.

They were not sure who would come to power next. Nixon wrote that “there is still no one in Russia who is in Yeltsin’s class as a potential leader.” He informed Clinton that a nationalist and populist wave in Russia could produce a “credible candidate for president”—just five years before Putin’s Russian nationalist government came to power.

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Richard Nixon and Boris Yeltsin

Russian President Boris Yeltsin (R) and former US President Richard Nixon meet with all smiles in the Kremlin on February 10, 1993. (Sergei Guneyev/Getty Images)

“The Russians are serious people. Part of the reason Khrushchev was put back on the shelf in 1964 is that proud Russians were embarrassed by his antics at the United Nations and other international forums,” Nixon wrote.

The letter also reveals some distaste for Nixon’s career diplomats. “I learned during my years in the White House that some of the best decisions I made, such as going to China in 1972, were made without the approval or over the objections of most foreign service officers.” Nixon advised Clinton to make her own way and not be held back by her staff. “Remember that foreign service officers get to the top without getting into trouble. So they’re more interested in covering their asses than protecting you.”

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In later years, Clinton would fondly recall Nixon’s advice. “After he died, I found myself wanting to pick up the phone and ask President Nixon what he thought about this issue or that issue, especially if it involved Russia,” he said in 2013.

Source by [Fox News]



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