NATO bears part of the blame for the Ukraine crisis: News : The Independent Institute

While the Russians are massing 100,000 troops near Ukraine and the Western media continues to vilify Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the blame for the current crisis in Eastern Europe lies solely with Russia. A Russian invasion of all or part of Ukraine would be a horrific and unnecessary aggression against a sovereign state, especially when that nation’s armed forces pose little threat to Russia. However, little recognition in Western media and elite circles in the West, especially in the capitals of the countries that make up the US-led NATO alliance, is a Western share of the blame for the current crisis.

To end his threat of invasion, Putin demanded that NATO formally renounce the addition of Ukraine and Georgia to the alliance and troop deployments and movements in nearby NATO countries. of Russia. George W. Bush foolishly promised in 2008 that these countries would eventually be accepted into the alliance. Equally questionable was the reiteration of this promise by the United States in the summer of 2021. This last statement likely triggered the build-up of Russian troops on three sides of Ukraine.

Russia has long viewed Ukraine as highly strategic. A significant part of the industrial and agricultural capacity of the former Soviet Union was in Ukraine, in addition to a very important Black Sea naval base in Crimea, which Russia, by armed force in 2014, returned to Russia for the first time since the 1950s. Equally important, Putin, despite being an unkind autocratic despot, has real security concerns in the approaches to western Russia, which includes the capital Moscow. Over the centuries, Russia was invaded from the flat land of Eastern Europe, including what is now the Baltics, Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine. Napoleon Bonaparte of France made it all the way to Moscow before winter forced him to retreat; the Germans of World War I threatened western Russia and forced the Russians to withdraw from the conflict; and the Russians lost 25 to 28 million souls stopping Adolf Hitler’s devastating multi-front invasion from north to south during World War II.

However, Russia’s insecure geographical position and history of invasion were completely ignored by NATO as it marched triumphantly east after the Cold War, even to Russia’s very borders. NATO’s statements that the great powers’ spheres of influence are so old and that the alliance’s open-door policy allows each nation to choose which countries it wants to associate with are just chatter that deny the historical realities of international relations. The reason Putin also threatened to send Russian troops to Cuba and Venezuela is to dramatize the United States’ continuous sphere of influence over an entire world hemisphere – the Western Hemisphere – since 1823 and to show that the United States would not appreciate hostility from troops, alliances or nuclear weapons anywhere in this region. The behavior of the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis amply demonstrated the latter scenario, and Mexico’s threat, just on the American border, to enter into a hostile alliance with Kaiser’s Germany helped spur the entry of the United States in World War I.

The spheres of influence of the great powers, despite the naïve and self-serving internationalist rhetoric to the contrary, are far from over. They are still widely recognized by international affairs pundits as the harsh reality in lawless international circumstances and offer the best chance for peace between rival great powers, given such a difficult environment.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and its rival Warsaw Pact alliance at the end of the Cold War, instead of triumphalist expansion to Russia’s insecure western borders, NATO should have either disbanded, or admit most European countries, including Russia. This would have given up its Article V military purpose and made NATO solely a diplomatic problem-solving forum for Europe. This latter approach would have been like France’s return to Europe after the Napoleonic Wars (much more severe aggression than the Soviets undertook during the Cold War), which led to a century without a major European war from 1815 to the start of the war. world. Instead, after the Cold War, the US-led NATO chose to rub Russia’s nose in defeat, much like the Allied powers vis-à-vis Kaiser’s Germany after the First World War. The tragic result: the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II.

Such humiliation of Russia by expanding a hostile alliance contributed to the failure of the democratization effort in the 1990s and the rise to power of Putin, an autocratic-leaning nationalist, in 1999. With the new declaration from the White House in the summer of 2021 that Ukraine would always eventually be absorbed into NATO, Putin – to prevent this absorption – escalated his partition of NATO into the very real possibility of a invasion of Ukraine.

NATO’s massive blunder is now evident. US options are now limited to trying to strike a deal behind the scenes to assure Putin that NATO will never admit Ukraine, risking appeasement charges if exposed, or to expedite the export of arms to Ukraine to wage guerrilla warfare if Putin invades, risking escalation between the alliance and Russia in other places.

We have to be honest with ourselves: NATO’s unnecessary expansion helped create the current crisis.

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