By Andrew Day, The Week
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has sparked a heated debate about NATO that boiled over into the Senate last week. Some argue that NATO’s eastward expansion precipitated the conflict by threatening Russian security. Others retort that because the alliance is purely defensive, the only “threat” it posed was to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s irredentist aspirations.
The latter argument is flawed. Whether or not NATO threatened Russia, Putin believed it did, and this belief informed his decision to invade. Moreover, Putin’s concerns were predictable, and the war might have been averted had Washington taken them seriously.
In the run-up to the invasion, the White House refused to discuss NATO expansion with Moscow. Senior official Derek Chollet defended the refusal. “NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO is not a threat to Russia,” he said – implying the issue was none of Russia’s business.