As the Western media goes into full war propaganda mode, any notion that we had any hand in the Russo-Ukraine conflict must be dismissed out of hand. However various foreign policy experts and strategic experts warned for years that NATO enlargement would result in war. Many have also warned specifically about our policy towards Ukraine since 2013 and how it will lead to conflict, below are some examples.

Henry Kissinger

US Secretary of State.

Ukraine should not join NATO, a position I took seven years ago, when it last came up.

To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.

Ukraine has been independent for only 23 years; it had previously been under some kind of foreign rule since the 14th century. Not surprisingly, its leaders have not learned the art of compromise, even less of historical perspective. The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the root of the problem lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant parts of the country, first by one faction, then by the other.

Washington Post, 2014

John Mearsheimer

US geopolitical scholar.

I actually think what’s going on here is that the West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and that the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked. I believe the policy I’m advocating of neutralising Ukraine and then building it up economically and getting out of the competition between Russia on one side and NATO on the other is the best thing that could happen to the Ukrainians.

What we’re doing is encouraging the Ukrainians to play tough with the Russians, we’re encouraging the Ukrainians to think ultimately they will become part of the West because we will ultimately defeat Putin and we will ultimately get our way, time is on our side. Of course the Ukrainians are playing along with this and the Ukrainians are almost completely unwilling to compromise with the Russians and instead want to pursue a hard-line policy and as I’ve said to you before if they do that end result is their country is going to be wrecked and what we’re in effect doing is encouraging that outcome.

I think it would make much more sense for us to work to create a neutral Ukraine.

From 2014.

George Kennan

US Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

I think it is the beginning of a new cold war, I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.

I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

NATO expansion set up a situation in which NATO now has to either expand all the way to Russia’s border, triggering a new cold war, or stop expanding after these three new countries and create a new dividing line through Europe

Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia, it shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are – but this is just wrong.

New York Times, 1998

Jack F. Matlock Jr

US Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

NATO expansion was the most profound strategic blunder made since the end of the Cold War. In 1997, when the question of adding more NATO members arose, I was asked to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In my introductory remarks, I made the following statement:

I consider the administration’s recommendation to take new members into NATO at this time misguided. If it should be approved by the United States Senate, it may well go down in history as the most profound strategic blunder made since the end of the Cold War. Far from improving the security of the United States, its Allies, and the nations that wish to enter the Alliance, it could well encourage a chain of events that could produce the most serious security threat to this nation since the Soviet Union collapsed. Indeed, our nuclear arsenals were capable of ending the possibility of civilization on Earth.

Adding countries in Eastern Europe to NATO continued during the George W. Bush administration but that was not the only thing that stimulated Russian objection. At the same time, the United States began withdrawing from the arms control treaties that had tempered, for a time, an irrational and dangerous arms race and were the foundation agreements for ending the Cold War. The most significant was the decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which had been the cornerstone treaty for the series of agreements that halted for a time the nuclear arms race.

After 9/11, Putin was the first foreign leader to call President Bush and offer support. He was as good as his word by facilitating the attack on the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It was clear at that time that Putin aspired to a security partnership with the United States as the jihadist terrorists who were targeting the United States were also targeting Russia. Nevertheless, Washington continued its course of ignoring Russian (and also allied) interests by invading Iraq, an act of aggression that not only Russia opposed, but also France and Germany.

Responsible Statecraft

William Perry

US Defence Secretary.

I did not believe that the timing was right to push for NATO enlargement. Most important, we needed to keep moving forward with Russia, and I feared that NATO enlargement and this time would shove us into reverse.

I went to President Clinton, explained by concerns and asked for a full meeting of the National Security Council to air my concerns and my arguments for a delay. I was amazed by the dynamics of the meeting. Neither Secretary of State Warren Christopher nor National Security Adviser Anthony Lake spoke out. The opposing arguments were made instead by Vice President Gore, and he made a forceful argument in favour of immediate membership, an argument more persuasive to the present than mine.

Stephen Cohen

Scholar of Russian studies.

if we move NATO forces toward Russia’s borders […] it’s obviously gonna militarize the situation [and] Russia will not back off, this is existential.

From 2014.

Noam Chomsky

The idea that Ukraine might join a Western military alliance would be quite unacceptable to any Russian leader.

[Joining NATO] would threaten Ukraine with a major war. The point is this is a series strategic threat to Russia, which any Russian leader would have to react to. That’s well understood.

From 2015.