Why Russia invaded Ukraine

Without 30 years of provocative, to the Russian mind threatening, behavior by the United States, the Ukraine war does not happen.

John Mearsheimer has pointed out that for well over 20 years, from the Soviet collapse in 1991 until the 2014 US supported, anti-democratic, violent coup in Kiev against a pro-Russian Ukrainian president, no one of any importance, absolutely no one, viewed Russia as a military threat to its neighbors or to Europe generally, or believed that Russia harbored revanchist impulses.  Neither its behavior during this period nor its top officials’ statements suggested Russia had any designs of dominating its near abroad, let alone conquering it, much less conquering anyone else.

And don’t forget: By February of 2014 Russia had endured repeated broken promises by “the West” (actually, by the neocon/Russia hating US cabal) that NATO would never be expanded toward the east. Those expansions, in the teeth of universal assurances by Western leaders to Gorbachev, rankled in Russia across its political spectrum, but for years Russia did no more than meekly object.

To produce any actual assertiveness by Russia beyond its post-1991 borders, it took the 2014 US sponsored coup against democratically elected, pro-Russian Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovic. Russia’s response was to declare Crimea part of Russia, mild considering that the new, democratically illegitimate Ukrainian government that the US helped to install, as nearly its first actions, announced repressive measures against the eastern Ukrainian, Russian and Russian-speaking population, and hinted that Russia’s 250-year-old naval base in Sevastopol might not be renewed. Actual military action by Russia was not required to accomplish the reabsorption of Crimea into Russia, because virtually the entire Crimean population (overwhelmingly Russian) welcomed it.

Vladimir Putin signs the treaty of accession (annexation) with Crimean leaders in 2014 (Photo credit: Kremln.ru)

After the 2014 US-sponsored and supported coup, there followed a brutal war by the new, illegitimate Kiev regime against the overwhelmingly pro-Russian and Russian-speaking population of the Donbas. In that war by Poroshenko and Zelensky between 15 and 20 thousand eastern Ukrainian, Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine were killed by their own government’s indiscriminate bombardment of civilian areas. During all this, from 2015 through 2021, the Russian government negotiated for a solution at Minsk and took no more military action than to provide enough help to the Donbas militias to prevent their being destroyed by Kiev.

Then the Biden administration entered the scene in 2021, and vastly increased military aid to Kiev, including providing weapons systems and training for Ukrainian forces, and conducting joint military maneuvers within Ukraine. It’s a near certainty that during 2021 the Biden administration also built or expanded bioweapons research laboratories in Ukraine. Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland as much as admitted this before Congress.

Meanwhile the presence of US missile installations in Poland and Romania easily capable of being utilized for offensive purposes continued to cause unease and resentment within Russian governing circles.  Remember that per Bush Senior, Helmut Kohl, Margaret Thatcher and others, the Russians were assured Poland and Romania would never become part of NATO if the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from eastern Europe and allowed German reunification, let alone host American missile sites. Small wonder the Russian government expected to soon see similar US weapons missile sites in Ukraine.

Throughout 2021, well into December of that year, the Russian government sought talks with the US over all of this, but especially about an end to Kiev’s war on the Donbas population, a guarantee of Ukrainian neutrality and the dismantling of offensive weapons systems in eastern Europe. The Biden administration turned down these repeated pleas for talks flatly.

And so the war came.

With this history in mind, does the Ukraine war fit the West’s claim of a “wholly unprovoked” attack on a neighbor and the initial step in building a new Russian empire?  Or, does it look like a belated reaction to decades of threatening United States military expansion toward Russia’s borders, accompanied by meddling in the political affairs of a direct neighbor that for 300 out of the last 350 years was part of Russia? Does it look like Russia’s goal at the outset of the war was empire building or ensuring its own (and the Donbas population’s) security?

Give it a think.

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