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Behind the Russia-Ukraine conflict

Why the U.S should beware of the law of unintended consequences

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M MWENDA | There is a huge misunderstanding of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Many people see it as an unprovoked act of aggression by a megalomaniacal President Vladmir Putin against a small neighbor. Yet Moscow has been lured into this invasion by the rich and powerful Western nations led by the USA. This is a war between Russia and USA/NATO, Ukraine is only a playing field. NATO nations have one of greatest advantage in any war – absolute control of the instruments of mass propaganda. Anyone following international news channels now is fed on a biased menu of anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda presented as news.

To understand this conflict, we need to take a brief detour of the basics of international relations. States are the main actors in the international system and there is no higher authority above them. This is called a system of anarchy. But anarchy in international relations does not mean chaos. It means the absence of hierarchy. If a state were attacked, there is no police it can call to its rescue.  This keeps states in perpetual fear. For instance, a state may live next to a neighbor with aggressive designs. If such a neighbor attacked, the victim would have to fend for itself. So, states build some military capabilities as an insurance against potential or real adversaries. This is largely because the primary aim of any state is to survive. A state that cannot survive cannot perform any of its functions.

More still, it is very hard for states to know the intentions of their neighbors, because these live in the heads of their leaders. Even if they knew, states can never be sure whether these intentions will remain the same ten, fifteen or twenty years hence. But states can discern the capabilities of their neighbors. The challenge is that as capabilities change so too can a state’s intentions. Therefore, even if a state did not have a premeditated plan for aggression today, the development of certain capabilities can in future tempt it to become particularly aggressive.

This brings us to America’s role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. America has been expanding NATO. After integrating Estonia and Latvia, which share a border with Russia, now it wants to add Ukraine and Georgia, to complete the encirclement. Russia finds this intolerable because it poses – not just a tactical or even strategic threat – but most importantly, an existential threat. In 1998, the top 50 US foreign policy and security experts wrote a memo to President Bill Clinton saying exactly that. They argued that NATO expansion would alienate Russia, cause the re-militarization of that country and the wider Europe, and therefore   not improve European security but rather create a new cold war and increase the risk of war.

In my view, the real problem in this crisis is not Washington or Moscow but the leadership in Kiev. They have, ignorantly and stupidly, allowed America to use their country as bait to Russia

Indeed, every scholar and practitioner of international relations of any serious heft that I have read or listened to has said the same thing – that Ukraine joining NATO is a redline for Russia and therefore risks conflict. This includes President Joe Biden when he was senator, former US secretaries of defense Bob Gates and William Perry, current CIA director, William Burns Jr., the iconic George Kenan, the great Henry Kissinger, the last US ambassador to the USSR, Jack Matlock Jr., former US ambassador in Ukraine, William Taylor jr., the highly regarded Noam Chomsky, America’s most respected international relations scholars such as Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Steven Cohen, to mention a few.

Why then has America and her satellites in Western Europe continued to encourage Ukraine to join NATO well knowing such a move would irritate Moscow and even provoke a war. In fact, America’s satellites in Europe such as Germany and France have previously expressed their opposition to NATO expansion. However, European countries are heavily reliant on the American security umbrella and economic patronage to openly and consistently oppose Washington. All too often, they curve into her desires in order to retain their friendly relations with their patron.

On the face of it, America’s everlasting desire to expand NATO when everyone has said it will provoke Russia into a war seems irrational. Yet from the perspective of realpolitik, this attitude is driven by serious geopolitical considerations. To understand it, one has to go to the English geographer, Harford John Mackinder. He argued in a 1904 paper that control of Europe and Asia (Urasia) means control of the world. I quote: “He who rules Eastern Europe (Russian Europe) commands the heartland; who rules the heartland commands the world island (Urasia); and he who rules the world island commands the world. This made Mackinder the father of geopolitics although he never used this term.

Russia is a humongous country that strategically straddles the Urasian landmass. Any nation that controls that landmass has potential to control the world, if it can develop significant economic and therefore military capability. Mackinder’s theory greatly influenced British foreign policy during the 19th and early 20th century when the United Kingdom was the world’s most dominant power – and this was long before Mackinder had articulated this theory of geopolitics. It also influenced US policy during the Cold War and, I suspect, still does so today. Just like Britain always sought to build alliances to contain Russia, the USA, after emerging from the Second World War as the most dominant power, has always pursued a similar policy. As the dominant global power, America’s strategic aim to cripple Russia, to block its reemergence as a great and powerful nation. This explains US obsession with demonizing Putin because he seeks to build a powerful Russia.

From the perspective of geopolitics, Ukraine is of little of no strategic value to the USA or NATO. That is why Biden has made it clear that America will not fight to defend Ukraine. This is not because Ukraine is not a member of NATO. That is an excuse, not an explanation. America does not need to have a military alliance with any country to defend her. The decisive issue is US strategic considerations. The USA went to war to eject North Korea out of South Korea in 1950, went into another war to kick Iraq out of Kuwait in 1990 and today will go to war with China if Beijing sought to take over Taiwan forcefully. In none of these cases did/does America have a security alliance with any of those countries whose independence it sought/seeks to protect. The critical consideration is her interests.

If America is not willing to defend Ukraine as Biden has said, why has it been encouraging Kiev’s belligerent stance towards Moscow. I think it is because America knows that a Russian invasion of Ukraine will weaken Russia by turning Ukraine into a Vietnam or an Afghanistan of sorts. America has been training and arming Ukraine, making it a de facto member of NATO. It knows that if Russia invaded Ukraine, that country can put up a stiff resistance and force Russia into a protracted war of attrition. If Moscow prevails and captures the entire Ukraine, America will arm Ukrainian nationalists and thereby force Russia into a prolonged and costly occupation. This would bleed Russia white and leave it exhausted.

Clearly therefore America has been using Ukraine as bait to lure Russia into this trap. And given Ukraine’s position, Washington knew too well that Russia could not avoid that bait – because it was caught between a rock and a hard place. Ukraine’s accession to NATO poses an existential threat to Russia. Moscow has spent 24 years in protracted diplomatic negotiations with NATO not to expand eastwards without any positive result. Russia could continue to insist that Ukraine is a redline and NATO would call her bluff. Ultimately, Russia had to invade in order to demonstrate her resolve. This invasion must, therefore, have been a product of prolonged and agonizing thought in Moscow between two repugnant alternatives – but equally what Washington was praying for.

The response of America and her satellites to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine makes this abundantly clear. They have used all the power they have to impose the most crippling economic sanctions whose main aim is to wreck Russia. There is no doubt that Russia will emerge from this conflict much more weakened and it may lead to the fall of Putin. But the issue is: did Moscow have a better alternative? Could Russia afford Ukraine in NATO? America presented Moscow with a difficult choice of acquiescing to her own encirclement or getting weakened defending her legitimate security interests. It should be obvious why Moscow chose the second option.

There is a second consideration driving US policy towards Russia. In international relations, it is impossible for anyone country to become a global hegemon. So, nations compete to be regional hegemons. Once a nation achieves hegemonic status in its region, it feels secure enough to roam around the globe to block the emergence of other regional hegemons. Look at America: it has absolute mastery of the Western hemisphere. No country can challenge it there. Secure in its own backyard, America feels free to roam around the world – in the Middle East, in East Asia, western and eastern Europe – propping allies and toppling enemies and of course seeking to block the emergence of regional hegemons there – because these would become serious rivals and competitors.

Under Putin, Russia has re-emerged as a strong state, with a growing economy and a powerful military. It was beginning to feel secure in her backyard hence her roaming in Syria, Central Africa Republic, Libya etc. It even sent her nuclear armed bombers to Venezuela. It must be US policy to cause Moscow problems nearer home (Ukraine) and get it bogged in such conflicts in order to distract her from throwing her weight around the world. For American policy makers, Ukraine is just a playing field, the consequences of this conflict on her people are of little consideration except as a rallying moral cry to demonize Putin. Washington knows Russia cannot afford to lose Ukraine from her orbit. Yet with her support in form of satellite monitoring, lethal weapons, economic sanctions, etc. America can give aid to Ukraine to bleed the Russians white.

Of course, ultimately, Russia will prevail but only after destroying Ukraine. However, will be at the price of wrecking herself too. With crippling sanctions and a protracted nationalist war of attrition, Russia will emerge from this conflict weakened and therefore unable to pose any serious threat to US interests in Europe. Given that Russia is a nuclear armed country, America cannot afford to invade her because that would lead to Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). But it has lured her into a long, costly and foolish war. This is a bait-and-bleed strategy. I think Russia took this American bait because there was no better option.

In my previous article on this subject, I argued that in the perspective of grand strategy, America’s peer competitor is not Russia but China, given the latter’s economic and population size and her technological abilities. Therefore, it should be the aim of US policy to ally with Russia in a future conflict with China, yet Washington seems to be pushing Moscow into the arms of Beijing. Yet it is also possible that US policy may be to wreck Russia in order to deny Beijing a useful ally. This could be because Washington has concluded that a future alliance with Moscow is impossible given the competitive interests both have in Europe.

In my view, the real problem in this crisis is not Washington or Moscow but the leadership in Kiev. They have, ignorantly and stupidly, allowed America to use their country as bait to Russia. The consequences on the Ukrainian state and society are disastrous. The cynicism with which America leaders encourage Ukraine in this war yet they know its end result is to destroy that country and its people is tragic and painful. Smart leaders in Kiev would have read Russian fears and understood American intentions. This would have driven them to seek friendship with both sides rather than seek the false protection of one. In the end, Ukrainian leaders have destroyed their country by allowing it to become a battleground for big power rivalry. And when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

Yet even with these calculations, America is making a reckless and dangerous gamble. Having lured a nuclear-armed yet declining power that Russia is into a costly war, it is hard to avoid the risk of strategic miscalculation. For instance, Russian missiles into Ukraine have fallen within 12km of the Polish border, and Poland is a member of NATO. What if such a missile fell inside Poland? The risk of such a mistake escalating the current conflict into a global nuclear conflagration is much higher than people think. As America and her allies celebrate the trap into which Moscow has been lured, they should beware the law of unintended consequences.

****

amwenda@independent.co.ug

11 comments

  1. The situation in Ukraine, just like in the wider Eastern Europe and the Balkans can only be understood in the context of its very long and complicated historical context. Part of the problem is that this region, even with all the changes, has never been able to completely shake off the ever looming shadow of its very early history or even its effects as many countries during their evolution process. That is why all peoples in this complex region (Poland, Russia, Ukraine, countries in the Balkan and Baltic regions) can all point to the region’s history, both early and recent history, to justify their aspirations, fears and suspicions in ways that makes the other automatic suspect bearing ill intentions. That the whole region became a conquered sphere of the then Russian led Soviet Union after WW2 complicated the matter even more. The way the Soviet union collapsed in 1998 freed some of the countries that had been swallowed by the big empire, but it also created new ones that had not existed as independent states before. But all understood one thing – that their new found status was a result of the cumulative weakness that happened in the empire whose foundation was the Russian state. All understood that they were bound to be gobbled up again as long as Russia regained strengths and wanted to be empire again. This has been the central fear that shaped the foreign policies of many countries that were former Soviet Republics and even those in the former Warsaw Pact block led by the Soviet Unions. Many of them knew that on their own they stood no chance against a resurgent Russia hence the dash for the only viable protective umbrella which in this case was NATO. That is why it is foolhardy to look at the Ukraine crisis only in terms of US VS Russia rivalry or even more cynically as stupidity of the Ukrainians. Ukraine wanted to join NATO and the EU to protect itself from what is happening to it today. It just did not make it to the NATO umbrella and Russia itself pounced on it before the window closed.

  2. @ M!K!
    When you ask to look at things in their context, which is good, why then do you only see them in one lens and argue your case? Where is Russia case in your lens? Isn’t it the NATO expansion that followed shortly after Prague threw fuel on the fires of Russian nationalism? Certainly, the west in their desire to expand NATO bear responsibility for this war. But the person who bears the most responsibility is the president of Ukraine. He was so naive to allow NATO to use him, most especially at the time when Russian Nationalism was growing strong. His timing was the worst whether Ukraine desired to join NATO. Ukraine is a buffer state between NATO and Russia. How could
    Zolensky have be so naive to think a strong president such as Putin would tolerate Ukraine’s accession to NATO under his watch? Putin had to deal with it no matter what and he was right. USA has done the same many times even where her existential threat was not threatened. Why can’t Russia? Sadly, Andrew has really made a good and nuanced case. Indeed Zolensky leadership was lacking and he has exposed his own country and the lovely people to a war that he could have been avoided.

    • @Dick
      It is very easy to go with the easiest and sometimes cynical interpretation or explanations for this very intricate situation. Even when quoting a litany of supposed experts (and we know that even the experts, many of whom align their final conclusions with the over riding authority that commissions their works) as Andrew does in this case. How can one even try to imply, as Andrew tries to do here, that Ukrainians or their current leader now just seeks NATO membership or even admission to the EU just to spite Russia at the instigation of America? Yet of course their goal is security and economic prosperity for themselves. One just has to look at countries like Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania etc that made it to the NATO security umbrella or economic benefits of the EU. They are better for it, and the benefits for them are more than what America benefited from it. Even Andrew cannot say they are worse off for having done so especially when compared to many of the other former Soviet republics.
      It is also important to understand that the dissolution of the Soviet Union and eventual collapse of the Warsaw Pact did not happen because its former constituent parts wished it or even democratically voted to end it. The dissolution happened because of an economic implosion and other problems that had piled up over time such that the center could no longer hold. All 15 former Soviet Republics and all those countries formerly under the Warsaw Pact (many of the latter never wanted to be there in the first place) seized the moment and dashed for their freedom as independent countries. And this was true of the former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe, the Baltics, the Trans caucus and even Central Asia. Just like was the case for the Warsaw Pact member countries that mainly ended up their more due to the course of WW2 on the eastern front than their free choice! Countries like East Germany, Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Chechsklovakia, etc. However, with the exception of East Germany which re-unified with West Germany and the Russian Federation which was the major block of the Soviet Union, all the other newly independent states knew that they lived under the shadow of a future resurgent Russia that was bound to try and recreate the empire in one or other form. They understood that a resurgent Russia with imperial appetite would not only gobble them up again, but would also commandeer their economies to raise the enormous amounts needed to rebuild a great army needed to hold together an empire. And Andrew deliberately omits the fact that prominent Russian voices no less than President Putin himself are on record either making it known that the only reason some peoples (Ukrainians in particular) should exist is as parts of Russia and not as independent countries! He has said something similar of Serbia? Many of these countries understood that on their own, and absent of a protective Umbrella like NATO would always be endangered countries with the level of danger increasing given each country’s proximity to Russia itself. Andrew and yourself are right to cite contemporary geopolitical issues as being key in Russia’s considerations. But the same realities are also true for Ukraine for example. Many commentators cynically pretend like Ukraine as a country has no well considered reasons for wanting to join NATO or even the EU both of which Russia does not want it to do. It is also true that Ukraine was not about to join NATO when the current war started almost a month ago now, even though it applied to do so since 2017! And the NATO constitution is such that no country can become a member when it is still embroiled in any border disputes. And Ukraine still has these.
      It is also important to understand the origins of NATO itself. Some of the reasons go far back before the beginning of WW2, but the major ones are from the results and effects of the war itself. Through the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century America’s foreign policy was mainly isolationist and deliberately designed to stay out of European affairs where new nationalist and imperialist sentiments were increasingly moving the continent towards belligerence that culminated into WW1 in 1914. By the time it ended America itself had been drawn into it. The brief relapse into American isolationism in the post WW1 years was shattered again when America ended up pulled into WW2 decades later. For both world wars Germany nationalism and militarism were determined to be major contributing factors. And in both instances American eventual involvement became key in determining how the two wars ended. And for WW2 much of Europe was in ruins and so weakened while the then communist Soviet Union emerged as the pre-eminent European power and feared that it was bound to match on to conquer the entire European continent to impose a communist system if nothing else. Such were the circumstances under which NATO was born with the major aim of keeping America engaged in the security affairs of Western Europe, to incorporate post war Germany in the security architecture of Europe while also moderating its militarism, and also to prevent the Soviet Union from conquering all of Europe. It was for major intents and purpose meant to be defensive in nature. The Warsaw Pact formulated out of a few years later due to fear by Soviet Union that plans led by nuclear armed US were afoot to attack it, was the Soviet Union’s answer to NATO. The major difference was that many of the countries joining NATO (with the exception of divided Germany) did so willingly for most part whereas those countries under Soviet occupation had little choice in the matter except for Yugoslavia whose exemption from NATO was mainly because of the personal relationship between its leader Josef Tito and Soviet leader Stalin. The same fears and mutual suspicions sparked and drove the cold war throughout its duration. The end of the cold war resulted in the unipolar world with America as the sole superpower. For many people in the West and countries formerly under the Soviet Union ambit the end of the cold war may have diminished the Russian threat. But to them it never eliminated the nature of the threat which remained the same as long as a Russian resurgency and appetite for empire was possible. And Russia is on the resurgency.

    • When I read Moscow has been “lured into this invasion” I was astounded as I felt that such a drastic obfuscation of facts should simply be ignored. And I was not disappointed. America did not provoke Russia.
      Russia is trying to provoke America because it’s trying to remain relevant on the World Stage; Putin has been bitter for years because the USA seems more afraid of China and just sees Russia as an annoying poodle barking for attention.
      -Was Moscow lured to Afghanistan?
      – Was Moscow Lured into Georgia?
      – Was Moscow Lured into Chechnya?
      – Was Moscow lured into eastern Europe after the cold war?
      – Was Moscow lured to invade Crimea?
      – Was Moscow lured to poison and kill dissidents in London three times?
      During the cold war, the arguments presented in this article may have been worthy of note. But Andrew forgets to note that
      1. When USSR collapsed NATO almost lost interest in armament because they did not see Russia as a threat. That is why you saw many times, especially during the Trump era America complaining that Europe’s defense budget was very low.
      2. If the USA as Mwenda claims was ” encircling Russia”. Why are they adding more troops just now after Russia’s belligerency?
      3. For the past thirty years the west had changed its strategy toward Russia to economic incorporation; that’s why you see so many oligarchs with property in Europe.
      Everyone thought economic integration through real estate and oil and gas would bring Russia closer.
      4. Everyone except Putin, an ex-KGB agent who was bitter about the collapse of the USSR and even accused the west of triumphalism (just google it) This is a fact. So, Putin for years harbored hopes of the past political power and glory of the USSR
      5. Putin realized that even with lots of money which he stole with his kleptocrats, he was no longer powerful, And you can see even in this war that without the USA sending its troops Russia cannot fight a ragtag Ukrainian army.
      6. Russia is no competition for the USA anymore (except that they have nuclear weapons) : however, in conventional war, Russia is totally useless.
      7. This is the real reason Putin and his cabal have been invading eastern Europe, Syria and trying to engage in espionage (poisoning political opponents), interfering in USA elections because like a little kid who knows that he is not considered important, he throws tantrum after tantrum to attract the attention of grown-ups
      8. America did not provoke Russia; No; Russia is trying to provoke America because it’s trying to remain relevant on the World Stage like a little kid who has been kicked off the grown-ups table

  3. @Dick

    It is also worth noting that NATO’s expansion in whichever direction since its inception has for most part been through invitation by those countries which felt insecure on their own, and not through conquest and over running other countries to make them its new members. That the common reason for the fear of insecurity has been Russia and still is, first as the nucleus of the Soviet empire, and later as a resurgent Russian empire of today is a different matter. You blame President Zerensiky for bringing the war to his country maybe because you either don’t know or maybe you forget that he run on the platform of seeking both NATO and EU membership for his country. Ukrainians who have a right to their national aspirations elected him to do this. That is what he has been seeking to do. Ukraine was damned whether it sought membership to both NATO and the EU or not as long as there was a resurgent Russia with empire ambitions. And this was bound to happen regardless of who the Ukraine president would have been, not because of their naivety or other short comings as political leaders or statesmen. At least you yourself seem to agree that aspirations by Ukraine were detrimental to that country as long as there was a strong leader such as President Putin in Russia, and with strong Russian national sentiments. It is also instructive to look at the rhetoric that has been coming out of Russia. President Putin made his desire known to bring all Russian speaking people under Russian borders. Ukraine like many former Soviet republics like Latvia, Lithuania, Moldovia and Georgia have significant Russian speaking minorities localized in specific regions inside their borders. And they all understood that President Putin’s expressed desire to bring home the Russian speakers was not meant to be mass migration back to Russia but through annexation of the regions where they moved to and now live. Luhansky, Donetsky, Ossetia, Transnistra etc are a result of this stated desire. Then there is the famous dismissal of Ukraine as an unnatural country or entity if it is not part of Russia to which it must be brought back. How would any country or its leader react to that especially if coming from a very strong neighbor with the means to carry it out? President Putin knows that his subliminal message was not lost on the Ukrainians or their leaders (to be fair it is worth pointing out that a significant portion of the Ukraine thinks it should be in the Russian ambit). He also knew that Ukraine was determined to dash for the protection of the NATO umbrella. That is why he started by complicating the situation through creation of a border dispute through the break-away regions of Luhansky and Donetsky, and later the outright occupation of Cremea so that these factors alone made it impossible for Ukraine to join NATO as long as they were unresolved. All these did not happen because of Ukrainians or Zerensiky’s stupidity/naivete. It is simply because Zerensiky’s arrival at the political stage collided with the maturing of President Putin’s pet project of recreating something akin to the Russian empire. And after Russia, Ukraine was the second most important constituent part of the Russian empire and therefore too important to let go beyond reach. The right time for Putin was before Ukraine could become a member of the EU and NATO membership of which would oblige members of those organizations to come to its defense beyond support of money and arms as is happening now. And much of what is happening now was bound to happen regardless of who was president either side of the border. The aspirations and aims of both countries were on a collision course with only false off-rumps.

  4. To me.the biggest. Puzzle is the quality of the refugees as compared to conflicts that occur in Africa. I don’t see people carrying mattresses, jerrycans and live chickens. What is the secret?

  5. Russia is an imperialist state, that for hundreds of years has used deceit and violence to subordinate its smaller neighbours. During Soviet Union, Stalin starved in between 3-14 million Ukrainians in an attempt to “clear” the land for Russians – history knows this genocide as Holodomor. Ukraine is a sovereign country, free to choose its own alliances.

  6. @M!K!
    Andrew’s article is extensive, analytical and well balanced. Yet your rebuttal lacks analytical insight and ignores the importance of power in politics. Let me help you to understand this better. If USSR sought to convince Mexico or Canada to join the Warsaw Pact, the US would not stand by and allow it to happen. Right? The Cuban missile crisis proved it: That US cannot tolerate the positioning of the perceived enemy 145kms from its border. In Iraq, 11,160Kms from US, there were never weapons of mass destruction that threatened the US, yet the US invaded it. However, in the current situation, Ukraine borders super power Russia, is a buffer state and a home to ethnic Russians, and has contemplated joining an ‘enemy security alliance’ that would place the troops and weapons right on Russia’s border. Why do you think any capable leader of Russia would accept that? M!k! less thoughtful arguments: “the goal of Ukraine seeking NATO is security and economic prosperity for themselves and it is Ukraine’s right.” Was this not the goal of Cuba too? Doesn’t Russia have interests and see Ukraine joining NATO as a threat? It is a clash of interests that needed to be resolved amicably. Russia has been trying to reach a compromise for more than 15 years without any significant progress because of NATO .

  7. @ M!K!
    In fact the war currently going on would have been prevented in 2002 if the Prague Summit held in 2000 had not resulted in a large number of invitations to countries on Russian boarder into NATO, which ignited Russian nationalism as a response. The Russian public started rallying some 20 years ago, and kept asking for guarantee from NATO that their immediate neighbors should be neutral or never join it. US held its cards and waited for the moment that would could not cause her much damage. The opportunity struck with naive Zelensky. He failed to understand the complexity of the power struggles, got the timing wrong and has caused the destruction of his country and sadly the death of the people. He could have remained nuetral and negotiated better trade terms with Russia and the rest of the world. He has exposed his country to used as a proxy battleground by the US led NATO to get Putin who is seen as anti liberal international order spearheaded by American military.

  8. When I read Moscow has been “lured into this invasion” I was astounded as I felt that such a drastic obfuscation of facts. And I was not disappointed. America did not provoke Russia.
    Russia is trying to provoke America because it’s trying to remain relevant on the World Stage; Putin has been bitter for years because the USA seems more afraid of China and just sees Russia as an annoying poodle barking for attention;
    -Was Moscow lured to Afghanistan?
    – Was Moscow Lured into Georgia?
    – Was Moscow Lured into Chechnya?
    – Was Moscow lured into eastern Europe after the cold war?
    – Was Moscow lured to invade Crimea?
    – Was Moscow lured to poison and kill dissidents in London three times?
    During the cold war, the arguments presented in this article may have been worthy of note. But Andrew forgets to note that
    1. When USSR collapsed NATO almost lost interest in armament cause they did not see Russia as a threat. That is why you saw many times, especially during the Trump era America complaining that Europe’s defense budget was very low.
    2. If the USA as Mwenda claims was ” encircling Russia”. Why are they adding more troops just now after Russia’s belligerency?
    3. for the past thirty years the west had changed its strategy toward Russia to economic incorporation; that’s why you see so many oligarchs with property in Europe.
    Everyone thought economic integration through real estate and oil and gas would bring Russia closer.
    4. Everyone except Putin, an ex-KGB agent who was bitter about the collapse of the USSR and even accused the west of Triumphalism (just google it )This is a fact. So Putin for years harbored hopes of the past political power and glory of the USSR
    5. Putin realized that even with lots of money which he stole with his kleptocrats, he was no longer powerful, And you can see even in this war that without the USA sending its troops Russia cannot fight a raga tag Ukrainian army.
    6. Russia is no competition for the USA anymore ( except that they have nuclear weapons) : however, in conventional war, Russia is totally useless.
    7. This is the real reason Putin and his cabal have been invading eastern Europe, Syria and trying to engage in espionage ( poisoning political opponents), interfering in USA elections because like a little kid who knows that he is not considered important, he throws tantrum after tantrum to attract the attention of grown-ups
    8. America did not provoke Russia; No; Russia is trying to provoke America because it’s trying to remain relevant on the World Stage like a little kid who has been kicked off the grown-ups table

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