The West is to Blame for the Ukraine Crisis

This is now being admitted even in the influential organs of the US political establishment. In the Council for Foreign Relations’ magazine, Foreign Affairs (September/October 2014) an article, ‘Why the Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault’ written by John J. Mearsheimer explains why US/UK policy since the ending of the Cold War has produced crisis after crisis:

“According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pretext for Putin’s decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.

But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labeled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.”

The Road to Ukraine

Mearsheimer locates the origin of the Ukraine problem in US behaviour at the end of the Cold War:

“As the Cold War came to a close, Soviet leaders preferred that U.S. forces remain in Europe and NATO stay intact, an arrangement they thought would keep a reunified Germany pacified. But they and their Russian successors did not want NATO to grow any larger and assumed that Western diplomats understood their concerns. The Clinton administration evidently thought otherwise, and in the mid-1990s, it began pushing for NATO to expand.”

NATO’s 1995 bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs was the first sign of aggressive intent. NATO enlargement toward Russia took place from 1999, bringing in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland. The second wave took place in 2004 including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Moscow complained about this aggressive expansionism from the beginning but were too weak or unwilling to do anything about it during the Yeltsin period.

In his book ‘Putin vs. Putin’ Alexander Dugin, Philosopher and sometime adviser to the Russian leader, suggests that it would be a mistake to see the Cold War as ending in 1991. What actually happened was that the Soviet Union unilaterally withdrew from it. It did not concede defeat, negotiate terms or sign any document of surrender but simply said “I’m out.”

On 7 December 1988, Gorbachev addressed the General Assembly on the UN and there announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe. Gorbachev proposed a new world order based on “all human interests” and declared his desire for the Soviet Union to join international partners for peace. Essentially this was a unilateral withdrawal from the Cold War and an abandonment of Communist objectives and the international class struggle. The General Secretary declared his belief in the principle of renunciation of violence and force in international affairs. In essence, this was not only a proposal to the West to end the Cold War it was a signal that the USSR was prepared to abandon its status as a global superpower. The West took it, understandably, as a Soviet surrender from the leader of the Communist world.

The presumption in Russia was that having withdrawn from the Cold War its opponents would do likewise. The US/UK had always proclaimed they were fighting the Cold War for mainly defensive purposes so it was reasonable to assume that once the threat from the ‘Evil Empire’ of Communism was removed they would stand down their armies and dissolve their ‘defensive’ force of NATO. It was, however, naive in the extreme for Gorbachev to have believed that the West would reciprocate in kind. Instead, the US ramped up the pressure on Gorbachev, militarily and economically, by preventing Western companies like Toshiba doing business in Moscow.

This was very different from the position relating to Communist China, where Western investment and Chinese participation in the global market was being greatly encouraged by Washington. The aim of US policy, since the Nixon years, had been to drive a wedge between Communist China and Communist Russia. It seems to have been believed that encouraging Chinese collaboration in the capitalist world market would undermine the Communist Party, since politics follows from economics, doesn’t it? However, at the same time as the Russian enemy was being subverted the Chinese instrument was being built as a formidable force (the new enemy?) because the Communist Party of China had no Gorbachev and conducted its statecraft very shrewdly indeed.

The USSR had tested the West’s pretensions a few years into the Cold War. On 31 March 1954  a note was sent to the governments of France, the United States and Great Britain offering to discuss a possibility of the Soviet Union joining NATO:

“… inasmuch as the Soviet Union of all the big powers that belonged to the anti-Hitler coalition is the only one that is not a signatory to this treaty, the North Atlantic Treaty cannot but be regarded as an aggressive pact directed against the Soviet Union. Given the proper conditions, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization could lose its aggressive character, that is, if all the big powers that belonged to the anti-Hitler coalition became its participants.”

“In view of this the Soviet Government, guided by the unchanged principles of its foreign policy of peace and desirous of relaxing the tension in international relations, states its readiness to join with the interested governments in examining the matter of having the Soviet Union participate in the North Atlantic Treaty.” 

The Secretary General of NATO Lord Ismay, however, on a piece of paper torn out from a note pad at a Milan hotel, where he was staying, concluded that the Soviet application amounted to “an unrepentant burglar requesting to join the police force.” He decided not to bother to find out if Russia would subscribe to the NATO principles, which could only be ascertained by the accession process. And NATO’s response did not even represent a polite refusal. It came 3 weeks after the USSR’s request and said that “the unrealistic nature of the proposal does not warrant discussion”.

The Russians maintain that the U.S. secured Soviet troop withdrawal from East Germany in 1990 through promising there would be no expansion of NATO. However, since then NATO has absorbed 12 more countries.

An article by Jack F. Matlock, Ambassador to the USSR from 1987-91, in The Washington Post of 14 March 2014 confirms that the Russians were duped by the US, who treated the end of the Cold War as a Soviet surrender. Matlock saw the events at first hand and wrote:

“The common assumption that the West forced the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus won the Cold War is wrong. The fact is that the Cold War ended by negotiation to the advantage of both sides.

At the December 1989 Malta summit, Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush confirmed that the ideological basis for the war was gone, stating that the two nations no longer regarded each other as enemies. Over the next two years, we worked more closely with the Soviets than with even some of our allies. Together, we halted the arms race, banned chemical weapons and agreed to drastically reduce nuclear weapons. I also witnessed the raising of the Iron Curtain, the liberation of Eastern Europe and the voluntary abandonment of communist ideology by the Soviet leader. Without an arms race ruining the Soviet economy and perpetuating totalitarianism, Gorbachev was freed to focus on internal reforms.

Because the collapse of the Soviet Union happened so soon afterward, people often confuse it with the end of the Cold War. But they were separate events, and the former was not an inevitable outcome of the latter…

Even after the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist, Gorbachev maintained that “the end of the Cold War is our common victory.” Yet the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser.

“By the grace of God, America won the Cold War,” Bush said during his 1992 State of the Union address. That rhetoric would not have been particularly damaging on its own. But it was reinforced by actions taken under the next three presidents.

President Bill Clinton supported NATO’s bombing of Serbia without U.N. Security Council approval and the expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact countries. Those moves seemed to violate the understanding that the United States would not take advantage of the Soviet retreat from Eastern Europe. The effect on Russians’ trust in the United States was devastating. In 1991, polls indicated that about 80 percent of Russian citizens had a favorable view of the United States; in 1999, nearly the same percentage had an unfavorable view.”

It is on the record that Gorbachev was given assurances by both the U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, and German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, that if the Russians consented to the re-unification of Germany, NATO would make no movement eastward. But shortly afterwards, at Camp David, President Bush told Kohl there would be no accommodation with the Russians: “To Hell with that! We prevailed they didn’t. We can’t let the Soviets clutch victory from the jaws of defeat.”

The U.S. determined to ease Gorbachev out of Germany with cash bribes rather than a deal on NATO. In May 1990 Gorbachev believing he had ended the Cold War, asked to join NATO – but the Americans refused to even consider the possibility. In the end no written assurance was given to Gorbachev that NATO would not enlarge into the eastern part of Germany, despite the Soviet leader’s agreement over German unity.

When the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union were dissolved in 1991 Moscow immediately made another approach to NATO. Yeltsin, seeing Eastern European nations being admitted to an organisation that was obviously something else since it had no longer its former enemy, wrote to NATO in December 1991 saying Russia hoped to join the alliance some time in the future. The letter was timed to the first ever meeting between NATO foreign ministers and their counterparts from the former Warsaw Pact countries: the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania. 

The Communist bloc wound up its army of the Warsaw Pact, dismantled its bases both in Eastern Europe and Russia and the Soviet Union began to concern itself with its internal affairs. It believed the war to be finished and it did not consider itself defeated. However, this was not just a military withdrawal from the battlefield. The Soviet Union began to dissolve itself as well, so there could be no doubt that the basis of the division in the world since 1945 was over.

However, the US/UK then revealed that the aggressor in the Cold War was not, in fact, the Soviet Union. The US/UK proceeded to continue to wage its Cold War, albeit in a different fashion, appropriate to the changed situation. But it waged it nonetheless by keeping on the advance toward Moscow in the territory Gorbachev signalled he would not defend, and expanding NATO – an organisation that was presumed to be redundant with the removal of its enemy from the battlefield.

The UK/US also attempted to impose an Energy Charter, from 1991, on its new territories involving the integration of the energy resources of the former Eastern bloc into a global marketplace. This involved gaining access to Russia’s energy resources whilst excluding it from availing of the European ones which clearly signalled a Cold War defeat and occupation  of the defeated enemy, as what happened to Germany in 1918/19.

Russia, despite its rejection of the ideology which the West was at war with remained an enemy of the West in a continuation of the Cold War. It seems that Russia was an enemy not because it was, or had been, Communist, but because it was Russia. And it had to cease to be Russia to be treated as something other than an enemy.

That suggests that the basis of the US/UK antagonism with Russia was geopolitical rather than ideological, with it being carried on in the hand-over of global primacy between the Anglo-Saxon Atlanticist Powers. The history of British relations with Russia seems to confirm this, as in two centuries, between 1815 and 2014, Britain has only ceased to be an enemy of Russia in the two periods when Russia was required in other geopolitical work, to do down Germany. And the Great Game goes on.

That is not to say that ideology is unimportant. Russia can still be the ideological enemy of the West and is. Liberalism needs an enemy and in Putin and traditional, collective Russia they have found it. All the various individualising forces in the US/UK that have broken up collective identities – whether social class, gender, or cultural – have been mobilised ideologically against Putin. What else could prevent implosion and disintegration of society when it is fragmenting into individuals at such a rate?

Russia remained in a kind of fool’s paradise for a number of years – particularly under Boris Yeltsin – until it realised what was really happening. Russia was initially duped by the NATO General Secretary who informed Moscow that it could rest assured his organisation would not expand beyond its borders of 1990 now that the Cold War was over. It was a lie, of course, and Russia had to get used to this form of cheating politics.

Putin’s Munich Speech

The U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War confirms in The Washington Post that Vladamir Putin was originally benevolent toward the US and inclined to work with it until he too saw the reality of NATO expansionism:

“Vladi­mir Putin was elected in 2000 and initially followed a pro-Western orientation. When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, he was the first foreign leader to call and offer support. He cooperated with the United States when it invaded Afghanistan, and he voluntarily removed Russian bases from Cuba and Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.

What did he get in return? Some meaningless praise from President George W. Bush, who then delivered the diplomatic equivalent of swift kicks to the groin: further expansion of NATO in the Baltics and the Balkans, and plans for American bases there; withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; invasion of Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval; overt participation in the “color revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; and then, probing some of the firmest red lines any Russian leader would draw, talk of taking Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Americans, heritors of the Monroe Doctrine, should have understood that Russia would be hypersensitive to foreign-dominated military alliances approaching or touching its borders.”

Vladimir Putin made his Munich speech on 12 February 2007, which, as Alexander Dugin suggests, represented something of “a turning point in contemporary Russian history”. Putin said:

“The unipolar world that had been proposed after the Cold War did not take place… However, what is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making.

It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. And at the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within…

I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. And this is not only because if there was individual leadership in today’s – and precisely in today’s – world, then the military, political and economic resources would not suffice. What is even more important is that the model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation…

Today we are witnessing an almost uncontained hyper use of force – military force – in international relations, force that is plunging the world into an abyss of permanent conflicts. As a result we do not have sufficient strength to find a comprehensive solution to any one of these conflicts. Finding a political settlement also becomes impossible.

We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. And independent legal norms are, as a matter of fact, coming increasingly closer to one state’s legal system. One state and, of course, first and foremost the United States, has overstepped its national borders in every way. This is visible in the economic, political, cultural and educational policies…

And of course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this – no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race.

The force’s dominance inevitably encourages a number of countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, significantly new threats – though they were also well-known before – have appeared, and today threats such as terrorism have taken on a global character.”

Putin’s Munich speech declared to his people and the world that the Cold War against Russia had never ended and his country was still in a state of war. He said that he would rebuild and strengthen Russia’s soereignty and he would not tolerate American’s attempt to construct a unipolar world around itself. He declared that this geopolitical objective of the U.S. was doomed to fail. Putin was determined to preserve/re-instate the multipolar world that benefited humanity and its diversity.

This speech had the effect of bringing Russia to its senses, as Dugin says, and the Russian people began to see things as they really were. And it marked Putin off as an enemy of the US/UK which wanted the world for itself, to do with it what it willed, as it was going about such business in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Instead, Putin laid down a marker that Russia could not be written off by the West in its attempt to create a New World Order.

In the speech Putin criticised NATO expansionism:

“It turns out that NATO has put its frontline forces on our borders, and we continue to strictly fulfil the treaty obligations and do not react to these actions at all.

I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. On the contrary, it represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?

The stones and concrete blocks of the Berlin Wall have long been distributed as souvenirs. But we should not forget that the fall of the Berlin Wall was possible thanks to a historic choice – one that was also made by our people, the people of Russia – a choice in favour of democracy, freedom, openness and a sincere partnership with all the members of the big European family.

And now they are trying to impose new dividing lines and walls on us; these walls may be virtual but they are nevertheless dividing, ones that cut through our continent. And is it possible that we will once again require many years and decades, as well as several generations of politicians, to dissemble and dismantle these new walls?”

Dugin suggests that it was the Western advance into Ukraine that crystallised things for Putin. “Russia 2” painted in Orange on the tents in Independence Square, Kiev, in 2004 signalled that what was taking place in Ukraine was something of a trial run for the return of Russia to helplessness of Yeltsin’s time.

NATO Expansion to Russia’s Borders

At its April 2008 summit in Bucharest, NATO considered admitting Georgia and Ukraine. but hesitated in expanding right up to Russia’s borders. Instead a warning shot was fired by endorsing the aspirations of Georgia and Ukraine and it was declared: “These countries will become members of NATO.”

This prompted Russia’s intervention in Georgia in August 2008 when Putin showed his determination to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from joining NATO. The Georgian President Saakashvili, who was committed to joining NATO decided in the summer of 2008 to attempt to incorporate two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia into his state. Russian forces took control of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, making a point that it would not stand for NATO interference in its backyard. But despite this clear warning, NATO did not abandon its objective of bringing Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance. And NATO expansion continued with Albania and Croatia becoming enlisted as members in 2009.

Mearsheimer also notes the European Union’s role in the Ukraine crisis:

“The EU, too, has been marching eastward. In May 2008, it unveiled its Eastern Partnership initiative, a program to foster prosperity in such countries as Ukraine and integrate them into the EU economy. Not surprisingly, Russian leaders view the plan as hostile to their country’s interests. This past February, before Yanukovych was forced from office, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the EU of trying to create a “sphere of influence” in eastern Europe. In the eyes of Russian leaders, EU expansion is a stalking horse for NATO expansion.”

Mearsheimer also draws attention to the other method the West has employed to expand into Ukraine – the funding of pro-Western individuals and organizations in the country. Victoria Nuland, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, estimated in December 2013 that the US had invested more than $5 billion since 1991.  The U.S. government has also bankrolled the National Endowment for Democracy and funded more than 60 projects in Ukraine, with the NED’s president, Carl Gershman, calling the country “the biggest prize” to be had by the West. After Yanukovych won Ukraine’s presidential election in February 2010, the NED decided he was undermining its goals, so it stepped up efforts to support the opposition.

Direct threats were made by those penetrating and interfering in Ukraine. In September 2013, Gershman wrote in The Washington Post, “Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents… Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”

Mearsheimer relates:

“The West’s triple package of policies — NATO enlargement, EU expansion, and democracy promotion — added fuel to a fire waiting to ignite. The spark came in November 2013, when Yanukovych rejected a major economic deal he had been negotiating with the EU and decided to accept a $15 billion Russian counteroffer instead. That decision gave rise to antigovernment demonstrations that escalated over the following three months and that by mid-February had led to the deaths of some one hundred protesters. Western emissaries hurriedly flew to Kiev to resolve the crisis. On February 21, the government and the opposition struck a deal that allowed Yanukovych to stay in power until new elections were held. But it immediately fell apart, and Yanukovych fled to Russia the next day. The new government in Kiev was pro-Western and anti-Russian to the core, and it contained four high-ranking members who could legitimately be labeled neofascists.”

Mearsheimer is clear about Washington’s role in all this:

“Although the full extent of U.S. involvement has not yet come to light, it is clear that Washington backed the coup. Nuland and Republican Senator John McCain participated in antigovernment demonstrations, and Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, proclaimed after Yanukovych’s toppling that it was “a day for the history books.” As a leaked telephone recording revealed, Nuland had advocated regime change and wanted the Ukrainian politician Arseniy Yatsenyuk to become prime minister in the new government, which he did. No wonder Russians of all persuasions think the West played a role in Yanukovych’s ouster.”

This prompted Putin to secure the important strategic region of Crimea (that had been attached to Ukraine by Krushchev) before it was subject to NATO absorbtion.

Mearsheimer argues that Putin’s actions were entirely understandable and justifiable:

“Putin’s actions should be easy to comprehend. A huge expanse of flat land that Napoleonic France, imperial Germany, and Nazi Germany all crossed to strike at Russia itself, Ukraine serves as a buffer state of enormous strategic importance to Russia. No Russian leader would tolerate a military alliance that was Moscow’s mortal enemy until recently moving into Ukraine. Nor would any Russian leader stand idly by while the West helped install a government there that was determined to integrate Ukraine into the West.

Washington may not like Moscow’s position, but it should understand the logic behind it. This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory. After all, the United States does not tolerate distant great powers deploying military forces anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, much less on its borders. Imagine the outrage in Washington if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico in it. Logic aside, Russian leaders have told their Western counterparts on many occasions that they consider NATO expansion into Georgia and Ukraine unacceptable, along with any effort to turn those countries against Russia — a message that the 2008 Russian-Georgian war also made crystal clear.”

Mearsheimer notes that the U.S. diplomat George Kennan had warned against US policy at the end of the Cold War in a 1998 interview, shortly after the U.S. Senate approved the first round of NATO expansion: “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies… I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anyone else.” In that same interview, Kennan predicted that NATO expansion would provoke a crisis, after which the proponents of expansion would “say that we always told you that is how the Russians are.”

Mearsheimer puts the blame on the Liberal side of the US Imperialism coin:

“Most liberals… favored enlargement, including many key members of the Clinton administration. They believed that the end of the Cold War had fundamentally transformed international politics and that a new, post-national order had replaced the realist logic that used to govern Europe.”

Putin in the Right

The analogies being made with Hitler do not impress Mearsheimar in relation to Putin. This Liberal anti-appeasement view that is periodically trotted out when the US/UK wishes to destroy functional states goes like this in relation to the Russian leader, according to Mearsheimer:

“Putin, having taken Crimea, is now testing the waters to see if the time is right to conquer Ukraine, or at least its eastern part, and he will eventually behave aggressively toward other countries in Russia’s neighborhood. For some in this camp, Putin represents a modern-day Adolf Hitler, and striking any kind of deal with him would repeat the mistake of Munich. Thus, NATO must admit Georgia and Ukraine to contain Russia before it dominates its neighbors and threatens western Europe.”


“This argument falls apart on close inspection. If Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22. But there is virtually no evidence that he was bent on taking Crimea, much less any other territory in Ukraine, before that date. Even Western leaders who supported NATO expansion were not doing so out of a fear that Russia was about to use military force. Putin’s actions in Crimea took them by complete surprise and appear to have been a spontaneous reaction to Yanukovych’s ouster. Right afterward, even Putin said he opposed Crimean secession, before quickly changing his mind.

Besides, even if it wanted to, Russia lacks the capability to easily conquer and annex eastern Ukraine, much less the entire country. Roughly 15 million people — one-third of Ukraine’s population — live between the Dnieper River, which bisects the country, and the Russian border. An overwhelming majority of those people want to remain part of Ukraine and would surely resist a Russian occupation. Furthermore, Russia’s mediocre army, which shows few signs of turning into a modern Wehrmacht, would have little chance of pacifying all of Ukraine. Moscow is also poorly positioned to pay for a costly occupation; its weak economy would suffer even more in the face of the resulting sanctions.

But even if Russia did boast a powerful military machine and an impressive economy, it would still probably prove unable to successfully occupy Ukraine. One need only consider the Soviet and U.S. experiences in Afghanistan, the U.S. experiences in Vietnam and Iraq, and the Russian experience in Chechnya to be reminded that military occupations usually end badly. Putin surely understands that trying to subdue Ukraine would be like swallowing a porcupine. His response to events there has been defensive, not offensive.”

It is pretty certain that Putin neither wants or needs the Ukraine. What Russia requires is a stable, and non-threatening neighbour with which it can do business – something like Azerbaijan. The Novorussians in the Ukraine may desire full independence, but Putin does not seem interested. Moscow would prefer a Ukrainian buffer-state with autonomy for its regions.

It is the West that is obsessed with controlling the Ukraine, and it is like when Britain looked at Germany in 1914 – it had to imagine its enemy as being of the same nature as itself. But Russia does not want the Ukraine – if it can help it. It can do without a dysfunctional, failure of a state with ethnic divisions that can attract unwelcome elements, and which will require massive subventions to repair. If it is drawn into that then there would be ample opportunity for the US/UK to stir the pot.

Mearsheimer proposes that the US and West should now adopt a different policy toward the Ukraine and Russia that would ensure peaceful co-existence:

“There is a solution to the crisis in Ukraine, however — although it would require the West to think about the country in a fundamentally new way. The United States and its allies should abandon their plan to westernize Ukraine and instead aim to make it a neutral buffer between NATO and Russia, akin to Austria’s position during the Cold War. Western leaders should acknowledge that Ukraine matters so much to Putin that they cannot support an anti-Russian regime there. This would not mean that a future Ukrainian government would have to be pro-Russian or anti-NATO. On the contrary, the goal should be a sovereign Ukraine that falls in neither the Russian nor the Western camp.

To achieve this end, the United States and its allies should publicly rule out NATO’s expansion into both Georgia and Ukraine. The West should also help fashion an economic rescue plan for Ukraine funded jointly by the EU, the International Monetary Fund, Russia, and the United States — a proposal that Moscow should welcome, given its interest in having a prosperous and stable Ukraine on its western flank. And the West should considerably limit its social-engineering efforts inside Ukraine. It is time to put an end to Western support for another Orange Revolution. Nevertheless, U.S. and European leaders should encourage Ukraine to respect minority rights, especially the language rights of its Russian speakers.”

It must be of significance that this view graces the pages of Foreign Affairs. It is perhaps the case that the US may be having a rethink over its aggressive post-Cold War policy after Vladamir Putin has checked their expansion and its limits have been reached. And perhaps the same is true because of the mess that they have seen themselves create in Iraq and Syria.

We shall see.


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