News ID: 325258
Published: 0503 GMT November 09, 2022
Russia’s war in Ukraine was neither necessary nor urgent; however, it was not unprovoked

Russia’s war in Ukraine was not unprovoked

Russia’s war in Ukraine was not unprovoked
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with officials and cultural workers via a video link in Moscow, Russia, on March 25, 2022.
MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN/SPUTNIK

As part of a more extensive interview with Peter Kuznick, professor of history and director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University in Washington D.C., about the war in Ukraine, we asked him why the war was necessary and urgent from the vantage point of Russia. The whole interview will be soon published by Iran Daily.

PETER KUZNICK: I don't think it was necessary or urgent, except in Putin's mind. It is unjust and unnecessary. But it was not unprovoked. Clearly, Putin was feeling on the defensive, and it has been very clear for more than a decade, or even longer than that, and he was very concerned about NATO expansion.

Many in the West say we don't understand why he's concerned because NATO was a defensive military defensive operation. Well, that's not the way it looks too much of the world. NATO has been much more than simply a defensive alliance.

For some historical context, in 1990 when Gorbachev agreed to the unification of Germany, he got pledges from a lot of different leaders that NATO would not expand one inch to the east. Later that same year, in 1990, they were already discussing plans to expand, though they didn't begin the actual expansion until the end of the decade, starting with Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Then in 2002, they expanded to a lot more countries, and continued to expand not only under Bush, but also under Obama, and now under Biden.

Back in 2008, George W. Bush called for fast tracking Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO. At that point that William Burns, who is now director of the CIA, was US Ambassador to Russia, and he wrote back a memo to the White House, saying “Don't cross Russia's red lines when it comes to Ukraine, and Georgia joining NATO.” That's point number one about Russia feeling provoked.

Point number two is that a fighting is going on over the Donbass for 14 years or at least for eight years from 2014. The coup that overthrew Yanukovych was very, very upsetting to the Russians. He was not a strong Russian ally, but he certainly was open to working closely with Russia. For example, when he reneged on the agreement with the EU for exclusive economic ties to the EU, he accepted the proposal from Russia, which included debt moratoria, and also better economic terms. Then, there was an uprising inside of Ukraine. A lot of that was spontaneous, from people who really did want to unite with Europe. But it was also instigated in part by the United States. The United States has spent a lot of money over the years training reformers in Ukraine, and especially Victoria Nuland was instrumental in encouraging the people to overthrow Yanukovych. We also need to remember that Biden was the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, and was heavily invested in Ukraine. So when the coup occurred, this was very worrisome to the Russians.

And then they took Crimea, which had been part of Russia until 1954 when Khrushchev made it a gift to Ukraine. They also supported the resistance in the Donbass, Luhansk, and Donetsk. And so, right before Putin decided to move in, when he had amassed the troops on the border which was going on for quite some time but he had not yet made any move, there was a tremendous increase in the shelling of Luhansk and Donetsk by the Ukrainian forces. So, one can easily see that there were a lot of provocations.

 

 

 

 

 

   
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