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Is the War in Ukraine NATO’s Fault?

Pope Francis said that NATO “barking” at Russia’s door may have led to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Maia Popa, Guțu Eva & Alexandra Muntianu, 10A

The recent ongoing war in Ukraine has been a wake-up call to the entire world. Although it seems that its cause was merely Russia’s fault due to its desire to “conquer” the world, the underlying cause seems to lie in the West’s mission to expand NATO.

What many people might not know, is that this war started in 2014, with the European Union’s desire to eliminate the corruption in Ukraine. Protests broke out in January and February of 2014, and soon after that, the Russians invaded Crimea. Nevertheless, Putin was not the main cause of this conflict - he was simply highly strategic feeling threatened at his own borders. His strategy was to take Crimea, then wreck Ukraine in order not to become a part of the Western alliance.

Between the years 1900-2000, America's main interest was Europe. However, later on, a shift of utter importance occurred: the rise of China.

Hence, Asia became America's pearl, following the Persian Gulf which had extremely close connections to Asia. Something that was never an objective for the Americans, nevertheless, is Ukraine, a country which is not even part of the European Union. Despite this, by conducting a survey, in May 2015, it was observed that people in the west of Europe would like Ukraine to be part of the European Union, but also of NATO. This would not have been a problem if things stayed this way, Russia still having control over the European Union because of Europe's dependence on its gas.

Regrettably, increased international pressure started making Russia “bare its teeth”. Firstly, NATO decided to expand, a phenomenon that took place in two tranches before: the first one was in 1999, when Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were incorporated into NATO, and the second was in 2004, when the Baltic States entered the organization.

At the NATO's Bucharest summit in April 2008, it was agreed that Ukraine and Georgia should become members of NATO, the Russians making it then perfectly clear that it was unacceptable and a threat to them.

Secondly, the European Union was also willing to expand wishing to integrate Ukraine economically into the west, a decision which did a lot of harm later on.

Thirdly, another part of the story was fostering, supporting and encouraging an ”orange” revolution on the part of the western democratic countries, promoting democracy in Ukraine and in other places.

The EU was warned by Russian officials of the highest rank that these actions constituted a flagrant threat at their borders, yet did not stop the efforts to make Ukraine a part of NATO. Western countries, all massively NATO members, are willing to give an Article 5 guarantee, which entails that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members, to a country that does not have the resources to help NATO. Moreover, NATO declared that it would NOT intervene in Ukraine, though support it with weapons. Is this sufficient help? Is it help in a war with an enemy who far outweighs the powers of a small country?

Thus, why are they willing to risk a nuclear war for Ukraine, knowing that Russia will not quit? Are the world leaders thinking rationally or exposing us all to the dangers of another World War just to prove a point? Are WE unimportant since the world’s population is, indeed, huge, and the lives of millions that might be lost in the war are negligible?

The USA needs Russia for certain resources, thus they cannot risk direct war with them. With Russia’s economy down due to the war which actively affects them, the US has started to pave its way to being a supreme power, making the former European countries, initially dependent on Russian resources, dependent on its overseas resources. Was this the trigger for the huge mess which impacted lives of millions and destroyed families, killed mothers and children, dislocated millions?

While everyone’s attention is on Ukraine and Russia, the US is improving their military by acquiring newer and more powerful weapons, while also selling them to NATO countries, thus becoming the world’s greatest military power. Needless to say that we do not know much about the military potential of China, a country which shall have to pick sides very soon, and which might decide the outcome of the world conflagration.

The US gave Ukraine old weapons as “charity”, while keeping the “good stuff” for themselves, thus preparing to become as powerful as possible. Nevertheless, no one seems to be talking about this issue and how its tremendous impact on us actually is.

The best choice would be to maturely and pragmatically abandon NATO expansion in Ukraine and make it a neutral, buffer state. The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path, encouraging Ukrainians not to compromise with the Russians, as the West thinks that it will win against Russia establishing it supremacy. Nevertheless, this isn’t a guarantee, and it brings us to the present and to the ongoing war which claims the lives of tens of thousands daily.

The Pope expressed his belief that, although “he might not go as far as saying NATO’s presence in nearby countries ‘provoked’ Moscow, it ‘perhaps facilitated’ the invasion”, according to an article on Politico released on May 3rd. The West expected that “poking the bear” would not have any consequences, then was rather surprised to see a war break out. Of course, Russia is still at fault for starting the war, since there could have been other ways to deal with this conflict, yet the outbreak was foreseeable, and thus could have been prevented.

Additionally, although this conflict was expected to burst out one day or another, Putin found that this spark was the most propitious one to ignite the flame for a whole war. However, what was least expected by most took shape, in spite of Putin’s exceeding self-confidence. Not many, including both some in the West and Russia, thought how brave, patriotic and determined the Ukrainians are to fight back. Behind an almost perfect façade of nonchalance and composure, Putin’s disappointment and rage for its troops not being welcomed into Ukraine’s territory with open arms has definitely crossed The Kremlin’s walls, leading to even more tension in the country.

Although little can be done now, there is something to learn from all of this. Don’t poke the bear repetitively and expect it not to become angry – that will always happen, regardless of the situation. But more importantly, keep the promise that you made that you would not disturb it in the first place.


John Mearsheimer on the war between Russia and Ukraine -

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