During a eulogy commemorating the late Richard Nixon on April 27, 1994, then-President Bill Clinton acknowledged the former president’s “wise counsel, especially with regard to Russia,” and referenced a letter Nixon had written to him a month prior.
For almost three decades, the contents of this seven-page, single-spaced letter remained a secret. However, Nixon’s striking revelations are now brought to light after the correspondence’s recent declassification by Clinton’s presidential library, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Richard Nixon didn’t live to see Putin succeed Yeltsin, but his newly declassified correspondence with Bill Clinton shows that he wouldn’t be surprised by Russia today, writes Luke A. Nichterhttps://t.co/mP2A1vFAL7
— Wall Street Journal Opinion (@WSJopinion) July 21, 2023
The details reveal Nixon’s remarkable foresight about a more aggressive Russia, the rise of figures like Vladimir Putin, and the worsening Moscow-Kyiv relations, the outlet noted.
Nixon, the first sitting president to visit Moscow in 1972, remained an elder statesman with a keen interest in the dynamics of the post-Cold War era. The former president continued to maintain connections with global leaders even after leaving office, per WSJ. (RELATED: How Richard Nixon Changed The Post-Presidency)
In the letter, Nixon warned that Boris Yeltsin’s brief experiment with democracy has “rapidly deteriorated” and that his days of “unquestioned leadership of Russia are numbered.” Furthermore, Yeltsin’s “drinking bouts,” frequent periods of depression, and inability to “deliver on his commitments” in an anti-American environment deeply concerned Nixon, the letter stated.
Nixon went on to caution that Ukraine’s situation was “highly explosive” and foresaw an aggravated relationship between Moscow and Kyiv in the near future. Concerned that American diplomats were not acting seriously enough, the former president urged Clinton to “immediately strengthen our diplomatic representation in Kiev” and prepare accordingly for Yeltsin’s potential successor, per his writings.
Identifying a suitable successor in Russia was challenging for Nixon, as no one seemed to match Yeltsin’s caliber at the time. Nonetheless, the former president emphasized, “The Russians are serious people,” as detailed in the letter.
Nixon insinuated that neglectful behavior from the US could lead to a more nationalist and uncompromising leader, the WSJ noted.
Despite not witnessing Putin’s succession of Yeltsin, this declassified letter demonstrates the impressive foresight of Nixon, indicating that Russia’s present state would certainly not have fazed the former president, per WSJ.