- Ronald Sunny
- Conversation *
As the fighting unfolded in Ukraine, two versions of the conflict-based reality crossed the deep divide and did not provide the truth for one another.
In the West, especially in the United States, the most pervasive and familiar view is that Russia has always been an expansionist state, and its current president, Vladimir Putin, is the epitome of that essential Russian ambition: Build a new oneOr the Russian Empire.
“It’s always about naked aggression, and Putin’s imperial will is by no means necessary,” US President Joe Biden said on February 24.
Argues that the opposite Russia’s security concerns are real, and the Russians view NATO’s eastern expansion against their country..
Putin has made it clear for years that if this continues, he will face fierce opposition from the Russians, even through military action.
That view is not limited to the Russians; It has also been signed by some influential US foreign policy experts.
Among other things, Fiden’s CIA Director William J. Burns has been warning about this The provocative effect of NATO expansion in Russia since 1995. Burns, then a political official at the US embassy in Moscow, told Washington that “hostility to NATO’s early expansion is felt almost universally across the domestic political spectrum here.”
NATO advances towards Russia
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949 by the United States, Canada and several European countries to control the spread of the Soviet Union and Communism.
That is the view of the West now No more anti-Russian coalitionRather it is a kind of collective security agreement designed to protect its members from external aggression and to promote peaceful mediation of conflicts within the alliance.
Recognizing the sovereignty of all states and their right to form alliances with any state they wished, NATO eventually accepted the demands of the European democracies.
The Former members of the Warsaw Pact Founded by the Soviets, it is the Soviet version of NATO. Joined NATO 1990s, with three former Soviet republics: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 2004.
The Western view is that the activities of the Kremlin alliance must be understood and accepted as targeting the United States, including war tanks packed with American tanks in the nearby Baltic states and rockets stationed in Poland and Romania. , They are not a threat to Russian security in any way.
Many warnings about Russia’s reaction
The Russian elite and public opinion in general have long opposed such expansion, the deployment of US missiles in Poland and Romania, and the supply of Western weapons by the military to Ukraine.
When President Bill Clinton’s administration moved to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in NATO, Burns wrote that the decision was “unnecessarily provocative at best and at worst”.
“As the Russians consumed their grievances and negative emotions, the growing storm of ‘stop-in-back’ principles slowly spread, leaving a mark on Russia’s relations with the West that have lasted for decades,” Burns said.
In June 1997, 50 leading foreign policy experts signed an open letter to Clinton: “We believe that the current US-led effort to expand NATO is a political mistake of historical proportions.rá European stability “.
In 2008, Burns, the US ambassador to Moscow, wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: “Ukraine’s entry into NATO is the brightest of all the red lines of the Russian elite (not just Putin ”s. I have not yet found anyone who would negotiate and see Ukraine as a direct challenge to Russian interests in NATO.
Responding to Russia’s insecurity
There are different conclusions as to whether the current crisis is due to Russian imperialism or NATO expansion.
If you believe that the war in Ukraine is an act of firm imperialism, then any action other than defeating the Russians 1938 Munich-style pacification And Joe Biden became the vengeful Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who agreed to Hitler’s regional demands in Czechoslovakia and was disappointed when the Nazis marched into the war.
However, if it is believed that Russia has legitimate concerns about NATO expansion The door is open for discussion, negotiation, compromise and concessions.
Having spent decades studying Russian history and politics, I believe that in foreign policy Putin generally took into account the dynamics of power between the states, both realistically, emotionally and morally.
Is looking for allies who are willing to consider Russia’s interests – it recently found such an ally in China – and Is ready to resort to armed force When you think there is a threat to Russia.
But he also sometimes acted on the basis of his ideological preferences Created stories On Russia.
Sometimes he acted as hastily as he did when he captured Crimea in 2014, and sometimes as hastily as his catastrophic decision to invade Ukraine.
Ukraine’s pro-democracy Maidan annexed Crimea in 2014 after the revolution, combining a strategic imperative for maintaining a Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol with a nationalist justification for bringing the imaginary cradle of Russian Christianity and the historic victory of the JARS. Return to the fold of the “motherland.”
Putin’s sense of Russia’s insecurity is real in the face of the very powerful NATOBut during the stalemate over Ukraine, his recent statements have become very feverish and paranoid.
A rationalist in general, Putin now appears to have lost his temper and is allowing his emotions to improve.
Putin knows enough history to admit that after the 1917 revolution, Poland lost some parts of Ukraine, Finland and eastern Turkey, and Russia did not expand in the 20th century. , Parts of Finland, and the united lands of Poland during the war with Soviet Ukraine.
Putin was shocked by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, losing one-third of its former territory and half its population. In a moment, the Soviet Union was disappearing and Russia itself was so weak and vulnerable to rival superpowers.
Many Russians agree with Putin and feel disgust and shameExcept for worrying about the future. But largely They do not want warRussian pollsters and political analysts say.
Leaders like Putin, who feel marginalized and neglected, can attack. He has already threatened “political and military repercussions” if the now-neutral Finland and Sweden try to join NATO.
Paradoxically, in 2008 NATO put small countries on the Russian border, such as Georgia, at risk of seeking to join the alliance.
In 1998, US diplomat George F. Kennedy, the father of Cold War control theory, warned against NATO expansion. Kennon wondered if increasing the security of the Eastward-leaning countries of that alliance would increase the security of the European countries or make them more vulnerable.
Ronald Sunny is a professor of history and political science at the University of Michigan. (USA.).
This article was first published in The Conversation. You can read the original version Here.
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