by Ted Snider
Why did Russia make the decision to go to war in Ukraine in 2022? It had been over two decades since the US and NATO broke their promise and marched nearly a thousand miles east toward Russia’s borders.
It had been eight years since the US supported a coup in Ukraine that removed a democratically elected pro-Russian government and replaced it with a hand picked government that was pro-West. Worse, from Russia’s perspective, the newly installed government was anti-Russian. It had been five years since the US dissolved the boundary between defensive and offensive weapons and began flooding Ukraine with lethal weapons.
Undertaking an analysis of the statements and events that led up to the war in an attempt to arrive at an account of the reason why Russia made the decision to invade Ukraine in 2022 is not justifying or condoning a war. Wars that circumvent the Security Council are always illegal. However, such an analysis is necessary if, in the first place, wars are to be avoided, and, in the second, they are to be ended through negotiations.
Russia has, from the beginning, had two stated reasons for the invasion: the insistence by the West that Ukraine will become a member of NATO and the failure of the West to pressure Ukraine to implement the Minsk agreements. These reasons are sometimes more colorfully captured in the slogan the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine. The former refers to NATO weaponry in Ukraine; the latter to the failure to implement the Minsk agreement and protect the ethnic Russians in the Donbas region of the east of Ukraine.
A long line of Russian officials had warned that NATO expansion to Ukraine was a red line. In 2008, Putin called it “a direct threat” to Russian security. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov warned the West that Russia would do “everything possible” to prevent Georgia and Ukraine from becoming NATO members.
In 2017, the Trump administration reversed the policy of the Obama administration and began pouring lethal offensive weapons into Ukraine. Instead of reversing the trajectory, Biden – who himself had warned against NATO expansion in 1997 – accelerated it. In the months preceding the war, Biden spoke of “a new strategic defense framework” with Ukraine and promised “security assistance” that included both financial support and lethal weapons.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.
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