Blaming NATO for the war in Ukraine pleases many, as well as Putin

Blaming NATO for the war in Ukraine pleases many, as well as Putin

Blaming NATO for the war in Ukraine pleases many

Lviv - NATO has become a matter of debate in Italy and abroad in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Questions have been raised in the West about the nature of the Atlantic Alliance, about the right balance between European and US contributions, and about the foresight to expand beyond the borders it had found itself with after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That the most intense and prolonged debate today is precisely on the latter aspect, namely on the dimensions of the Atlantic alliance, is explained by the fact that it was the Russian president himself, Vladimir Putin, who repeatedly used it as an argument to justify the invasion of Ukraine, without ever explaining why it did not decide to tackle the matter through diplomatic channels, rather than unleashing a bloody war.

In recent days Foreign Affairs, an authoritative US magazine dedicated to international relations , contacted dozens of experts with specialist expertise on the issue and asked them to comment on the enlargement of NATO. Although new states have been added over time (starting with Turkey and Greece in 1952), the demand for Foreign Affairs concerns the expansion since 1999 in Western and Central Europe. Of the 61 experts contacted by Foreign Affairs, 19 say they "agree" or "strongly agree" with the idea that it was a mistake, while 39 say they "disagree" or "strongly disagree". Only three neutrals. Many respondents commented providing:

Arguments against NATO Arguments pro-NATO A budget attempt 7 clichés to dispel about the crisis between Russia and Ukraine From Putin's unbeatenness due to gas to the inaction of the European Union, here's how to dismantle some commonplaces circulating on the crisis in Eastern Europe The arguments against NATO The invasion of Ukraine has brought back to the fore the ancient school of the so-called "realists", led by political scientist John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, perhaps the most famous academic on the list, repeatedly cited also by geopolitical experts in Italy, persuaded that the West and especially the United States are the main culprits of this crisis. According to this theory, although states may see their actions as purely benign ("NATO is only a defensive alliance") they have a duty to anticipate the fact that others may read them as hostile acts and act accordingly.

First, for the "realists", the decision to expand NATO eastward would have been a strain on the status quo. A choice not appreciated by Russian politics since the early nineties, with Boris Yeltsin in the front row, and also shared by the first administration of Bill Clinton, which as soon as it took office outlined the Partnership for Peace, a more flexible security framework to modernize armies of the former Warsaw Pact and the former USSR without increasing tensions with Russia. Less than a year later the Clinton administration chose to listen to the wishes of central European leaders who wanted a closer link with the West.

Secondly, say the "realists", the expansion of NATO has compromised the enlargement strategy of the European Union, since joining the first seems to have become a sort of "unwritten precondition" for the second . This is the opinion of Nadezhda Arbatova, a political scientist at the Primakov Institute in Moscow. Also according to Christopher Preble, writer and essayist of the Atlantic Council, enlargement has "discouraged European strategic autonomy and hindered a better sharing of transatlantic burdens".

And finally, the third mistake of the West would be was to undermine the trust built with Russia. The expansion was initiated in the golden age of Russian-Western relations, that is, when the Russian population looked positively at the model that had long been beyond the Iron Curtain. According to Michael Mandelbaum, former adviser to Bill Clinton and Johns Hopkins foreign policy expert, "enlargement has transformed Russian attitudes from pro-Western to anti-Western, thus creating the political context that Putin used to conduct his campaigns. of aggression ".

If in 2004 Moscow was too weak to keep the Baltic states out of NATO and the European Union, four years later it drew an insurmountable line, while NATO declared, at the summit of Bucharest, that Georgia and Ukraine would become members. In this way, NATO, says Mandelbaum, convinced the Kremlin that words would have no impact on Western strategy: only hard power counts. For Richard Betts, professor of political science at Columbia University, it was unwise to "kick Russia when it was on the ground", as "we should have known it would come back."

How much can a embargo on oil, gas and coal tried to calculate the economic impact of a possible embargo on the import of oil, gas and coal in European countries, the United Kingdom and the United States The arguments pro-Nato Those who recognize the validity of the enlargement strategy observe, on the contrary, that the Russian aggression against Ukraine would tragically confirm the farsightedness of NATO enlargement, without which other European countries could have become victims of the revanchist and neo-imperialist policies of the Kremlin. Moscow would therefore use the "threat" of NATO enlargement as a propaganda tool, conveniently omitting the fact that, in the 1990s, when the Russian leadership was more pro-Western, the enlargement of the Atlantic Alliance was not a problem. br>
"NATO enlargement is a false pretext to justify Russian aggression against its neighbors," says Maria Snegovaya, who teaches political science at Virginia Tech University. Putin now completely denies Ukraine's right to exist as an independent state and some of his TV commentators have even gone so far as to make speeches bordering on inciting genocide. For Maria Popova, a political scientist at McGill University, the enlargement of NATO is "an important contribution to European security" and has helped the democratic development of the states of Eastern Europe, guaranteeing stability and creating the conditions to make possible the enlargement of the 'European Union.

According to James Goldgeier, researcher at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, it was not so much the inclusion of 14 ex-communist countries that created friction with Russia. gradual, complex) as well as events such as the war in Iraq, or the revolutions in Libya, Ukraine and Syria, which demolished or destabilized regimes close to Moscow. And Putin's threats against Sweden and Finland, the coup attempt against Montenegro, the attack on Georgia and the attack on Ukraine that began in 2014 would show that those outside are more exposed to attempts at coercion. of Russia.

And even if it were true, as Mearsheimer and the "realists" say, that the enlargement of NATO - in particular, the fear that Ukraine would soon join the alliance - has convinced the Russia to invade, does this make the whole "open door" policy a mistake? As many of the respondents in the Foreign Affairs survey point out, answering this question requires thinking about counterfactual elements: What would the world be like if NATO hadn't expanded? Had it not been for NATO, says this school of thought, today most of the former Warsaw Pact countries would have been forced to return to the Russian "backyard" from which they escaped in 1989-91.

Perhaps the enlargement was a "strategic mistake" towards the Kremlin, says Anne-Marie Slaughter, foreign policy expert and head of the pro-Atlantic think tank New America, but it was the right thing to do to make countries feel protected of the East: "Economic integration into the Union would have taken more than a decade for some countries, their governments needed a tangible sign of joining the democratic club."

How much we depend on gas and oil from Russia? The European Union has updated data on its energy dependence: 41.1% of natural gas and 36.5% of oil are of Russian origin A budget attempt "The greatest failure of the post-Cold War order was the failure to anchor Russia in the West - commented Sergey Radchenko, historian of Johns Hopkins -. This was first and foremost a failure of Russia: the Russians did not have enough foresight, perseverance and goodwill to free themselves from the legacy of imperialism and authoritarianism ".

Renouncing to resolve its concerns with diplomacy or by offering an attractive model of development, rather than war, Russia has put itself in the wrong, condemning itself to pay a heavy bill in terms of socio-economic degradation and human losses. But even the West has not done enough to prevent Russia from drifting. The mistake was not just expanding NATO per se, but failing to seriously include Russia in a new continental security pact. And today, with Europe dependent on the United States for security and Russia for energy, with a population at risk of impoverishment and riots, the anti-Putin front risks paying dearly for short-range views.

What to do when the conflict on the ground takes a clear direction or maybe it is over? Rather than trying to "wipe out" Russia, even with questionable cultural initiatives, we Westerners should recognize, says Radchenko, "that Russia's thinking about the West is largely shaped by the perception, right or wrong, that the West seeks the end of Russia. Our goal should be to try to change this perception ”. Putin (70 years in October) will sooner or later go into decline. And when that happens, NATO countries will need to be able to offer Russia a viable path to rejoin them. Trying to reimagine Russia. And help Russia to reimagine itself.

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