According to the U.S. government and mainstream media, Russian President Putin woke up one morning and decided to invade Ukraine on the road to re-establishing former Soviet glory. This neatly fits US black hat / white hat caricature of the aggressive Russian Bear vs. peace loving American Liberty.
Virtually no mention is made of legitimate Russian security concerns; much less discussed. These concerns go back 30 years to the breakup of the Soviet Union. In return for Russia withdrawing troops from East Germany and agreeing to German reunification, the US promised Russian Soviet Premier Gorbachev there would be no NATO expansion into the former Soviet bloc. With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, NATO should have followed into oblivion. Instead, seizing upon new Russian weakness, NATO expanded to 30 members with inclusion of 13 former Soviet Republics.
Not satisfied with that expansion, the West flirted with NATO membership for 2 additional former Soviet republics, Georgia and Ukraine, to further isolate a weakened Russia from the West. For Georgia in 2008, that spelled disaster. Georgia banked on US, NATO support for their incursion into Russian leaning breakaway Georgian provinces. That triggered a Russian military reaction that thoroughly defeated and humiliated Georgian adventurism. The West backed off upon realizing Georgia was the foolish aggressor.
In 2014, the West went even further in weakening Russia in Ukraine by inspiring and supporting a coup against pro Russian Ukraine president Victor Yanukovych. Impending economic cooperation between Russia and Ukraine was unacceptable to the West, which preferred coup and its resulting Ukraine civil war to draw Ukraine into the West’s orbit. Over 13,000 dead resulted from the West’s meddling, with the civil war still ongoing.
Seven years later Russia had enough, threatening invasion to prevent further NATO expansion in Ukraine as well as placing offensive weaponry there and in other Russian neighbors enticed into NATO.
These security concerns are the basis for the current Ukraine crisis, not Russia’s attempt to recreate the Soviet Union. Biden knows this. US mainstream media knows this. Both refuse to tell us the truth that this crisis is largely US / NATO made and easily solvable with sensible diplomacy.
The current crisis reminds me of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and represents a neat reversal of today’s crisis. Back then the old Soviet Union was interfering in America’s neighborhood, even installing offensive nuclear weapons on our doorstep. America came extraordinarily close to nuclear war to force Russia to back down on the missile installation.
The resolution was sold as complete victory for America. Russia backed down without gaining anything. What weren’t told the deal involved a secret US promise to remove offensive US missiles on Russia’s doorstep in Turkey. Revealing that didn’t fit the ‘white hat, black hat’ narrative being fed to a gullible populous.
Sixty years on our government, our media, still can’t tell us the truth about American shenanigans which gin up unnecessary fears of war. They still can’t provide any nuance to diplomatic crises where both sides must compromise to prevent war. They still can’t tell us the truth that NATO has been obsolete for 3 decades and represents a source of conflict in the region.
Perhaps they never will.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.