Russia’s Aggressive War Illustrates Importance of US Foreign Policy: Ukrainians Are Latest Victims

“As has been oft detailed in recent days, the U.S. and European states blithely ignored multiple assurances made to both the Soviet Union and Russia that NATO would not be expanded up to their borders. The allies also demonstrated their willingness to ignore Moscow’s expressed security interests with the coercive dismemberment of Serbia, “color revolutions” in Tbilisi and Kyiv, and especially support for the 2014 street putsch against Ukraine’s elected, Russo‐friendly president.

Whether such actions should have bothered Moscow isn’t important. They did, and perceptions are what matter. In this case, perception was reality. Indeed, Washington would never have accepted equivalent behavior by Russia in the Western hemisphere — marching the Warsaw Pact or Collective Security Treaty Organization up to America’s borders, backing a coup in Mexico City or Ontario, and inviting the new government to join the military alliance. The response in Washington would have been explosive hysteria followed by a tsunami of demands and threats. There would have been no sweet talk about the right of other nations to decide their own destinies.

True, this might not be the only factor influencing Putin’s decision on war. He has articulated strong, though distorted, views of Ukrainian nationhood and Kyiv’s proper relations to Russia. However, security concerns have always loomed largest. He and other officials criticized NATO expansion early, when the alliance began its move eastward. Most famously, he raised the issue in his talk to the 2007 Munich Security Conference. His position reflected Russia’s perspective but was serious both in substance and delivery.”

“If allied behavior was not a sufficient cause for Moscow’s invasion, it certainly was a necessary cause. Putin might believe Ukraine should be part of Russia, but for the last 22 years did not attempt to conquer the country. His more limited attacks in 2014 were triggered by the Western‐backed ouster of a friendly government. Whatever Putin’s view of reconstituting the Soviet Union, after two decades all he has managed to do is retake Crimea and extend Russian influence over the Donbass, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. A repeat of Adolf Hitler he certainly is not.

Again, this does not excuse Moscow’s latest conduct, which is grotesque, criminal, and immoral. However, it offers a terrible reminder that U.S. intervention has consequences.”

“the Russo‐Ukraine war adds another example to Uncle Sam’s history of foreign policy malpractice. The conflict is not strictly America’s fault, since Moscow made an independent decision to attack its neighbor. For that, the Putin government bears responsibility.

However, the U.S. and its European allies set the stage for the war, engaging in behavior that clearly yet needlessly antagonized Russia. For contributing to the horror now engulfing Ukraine, Washington should be held responsible and its officials held accountable. Otherwise more people will keep dying because of Uncle Sam’s foolish hubris.”

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