Letter: Our fears realized in Ukraine
The tragedy of the Ukrainian war is that it was caused by fear. It began with our fear and distrust of Cold War Russia. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, we took advantage of Russia’s weakness by expanding membership in the NATO military alliance to include eastern European and the Baltic nations.
That put NATO right up against Russia’s western border. This alarmed Russia and made it fearful of a possible NATO invasion. (To understand Russia’s paranoia, recall the German invasion of Russia during WWII.) We then turned our attention to Russia’s south and considered NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. This further alarmed Russia and motivated Vladamir Putin to declare in 2007 that he would not tolerate NATO on his southern borders.
The only reason for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO would be for protection against a Russian invasion. With the threat of NATO on its southern border, Russia decided to back up its declaration by invading two northern Russian-friendly provinces in Georgia. It was over quickly as Georgia lost interest in NATO membership. Peace returned. However, the Ukrainians decided to stand on their “sovereign right” to join NATO. Their fears were soon realized as Russia invaded Crimea and the Donbas, two Russian-friendly regions. Again, it was over quickly but Ukraine decided to contest those actions and a low-grade conflict began.
With President Donald Trump sympathetic to Putin’s concerns, the NATO matter got put on hold. Once Joe Biden became president, the NATO game began again. On Nov 10, 2021, we signed a Charter of Strategic Partnership with Ukraine affirming its right to join NATO. That further alarmed Putin and he requested a written guarantee that Ukraine never join NATO. The request was denied. He began his preparations to invade Ukraine and then did so. We responded by declaring economic war on Russia and providing weaponry to Ukraine. The Ukrainian war began.
In summary, Ukraine got the Russian invasion (and destruction) that it feared. Russia got an economic war with the West and an invigorated NATO, realizing its fears. And we got a dangerous, hostile, and unpredictable Russia, realizing our fears. Thus the tragedy of fears realized.
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