How Putin’s obsession with NATO brought Ukraine to the brink of war

In response to the growing threat of a Russian military invasion of Ukraine, NATO forces in the region have begun to mobilize.

Spain announced on Thursday that two of its warships were heading to the Black Sea, which borders southern Ukraine, to take part in military exercises scheduled for later this year. Spain is also likely to send fighter jets to Bulgaria, while the Dutch government is sending F-35s to Bulgaria, and according to Gustav Gressel, a senior policy researcher and military analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, France wants to lead a Enhanced Forward Fighter Battalion in Romania. On Friday, the Kremlin asked NATO militants to leave Romania and Bulgaria, but fell on deaf ears.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks into a microphone at a meeting.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Sochi, Russia, October 21, 2021. (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

NATO and Russian security expert Nicolo Fassola told Yahoo News that NATO’s enhanced military arsenal and upcoming military exercises in the Black Sea are sending a strategic message. “In this case, the message was ‘NATO united, NATO resolved, NATO strong.'”

The expansion of NATO membership to countries that once belonged to the Soviet-era bloc is at the heart of the impasse in Ukraine. In talks with the West last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on banning Ukraine from joining NATO, Ask President Biden to categorically refuse.

NATO was established in 1949 as a peacetime alliance of the United States, Canada and nine Western European countries to contain the progress of the Soviet Union after World War II. This week, its leaders reiterated that it remains a protective alliance aimed at maintaining European security. NATO states on its website that its deployments on member territories are “defensive, proportionate and consistent with our international commitments”. It’s “enhancing a forward presence in the eastern region of our coalition not to provoke conflict, but to prevent it. It is a response to Russia’s use of force against its neighbors…including the massive build-up of Russian troops in and around Ukraine .”

Long-standing animosity between Russia and NATO leaves no doubt that Putin’s government severed ties with NATO in 2021 and evacuated its NATO embassy in Brussels.For months, Russian officials have been demanding that NATO stop expanding, ban Ukraine and Georgia Member joined since 1997 and expelled. History, spheres of influence, and the prospect of autonomy are tied to Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine, which was also part of the Soviet Union.

“What contemporary Russia wants to do is to re-emerge as a recognized world power,” Fassola said. Ukraine, eager to join NATO and the European Union, threatens this.

“Putin’s grievances with NATO are real,” Evelyn Farkas, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, told Yahoo News. “He wants a sphere of influence, and he wants to make sure that no democratic forces lure countries he thinks should be in Russia’s sphere of influence to join NATO or the EU.”

To understand what is going on in Ukraine and Eastern Europe today, one needs to look back almost a century ago to the founding of the Soviet Union in December 1922, a great experiment in socialism. With Russia as the command center, the Soviet Union initially included Ukraine, Belarus (now Belarus), and today Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Over the decades, it has covered 15 different republics, some of which have been forced into Russia’s bear embrace, most notably the Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

After World War II, the Soviet Union continued to expand into Eastern and Central Europe, creating Soviet satellites, which, although not officially part of the Soviet Union, were heavily influenced by Moscow and forced to join the Soviet military alliance Warsaw Pact 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Liberalization In Czechoslovakia in 1968. These Soviet satellite states included Poland, the former Czechoslovakia (now Czechoslovakia and Slovakia), Hungary and East Germany, which was reunited with West Germany in 1990 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A man is welding a pick to take part in the destruction of the Berlin Wall between Postdamplatz and the Brandenburg Gate.  (Jacques Langevin/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

A man is welding a pick to take part in the destruction of the Berlin Wall between Postdamplatz and the Brandenburg Gate. (Jacques Langevin/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Russian President Vladimir Putin described in 2005 as Russia’s “true tragedy” and “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”, many of these former republics and Soviet satellites headed west. Look. In 2005, many joined the European Union, and between 1999 and 2004, nine joined NATO for fear that Russia would come to the rescue again. Intriguing is Article 5 of NATO, which states that an attack on one member will be considered an attack on all.

Russia has been complaining about the military alliance, whose members now number 30, almost ever since, and more so since NATO defense forces and military installations have been deployed on the borders of five of them. Poland and Romania in particular have land-based Aegis weapons systems, which Russia fears could be converted to fire nuclear weapons. (Fassora said four NATO countries in Europe have nuclear weapons — Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and only Germany and Italy can reach Russia.)

One of Russia’s demands of NATO is that it withdraw the membership of countries it has joined since 1997, Fassola explained, meaning former Soviet republics and satellite states. “All of these countries that Russia is implying by setting the 1997 date are former Warsaw Pact members who joined NATO in the 1990s,” Fassola said.

Russia does not want to see NATO expand to include the former Soviet republics of Georgia, especially Ukraine, which was once a cultural gem of the Soviet Union. Last year, Putin gave a speech laying out his view that Russia and Ukraine are Slavic brothers, linked by history and language. However, most Ukrainians do not think December 2021 pollingCommissioned by the New Europe Centre, a foreign policy think tank in Kiev, the majority (61%) want to join the EU, while 53% want to join NATO. In 2014, then-President Viktor Yanukovych, Backed by Moscow, the Ukrainians instead blocked their application to join the EU, saying they should look back to the east, and the Ukrainians stood up in the street and threw him out. That year, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and has occupied it ever since. Russia also waged a proxy war in eastern Ukraine, arming and supporting Russian rebels in Ukraine, in a showdown that killed 14,000 Ukrainians.

The so-called Cyborgs, relatives of Ukrainian servicemen who died while defending the Donetsk airport, are hugged next to the memory wall of soldiers killed in the Russian-Ukrainian war in central Kiev on January 21, 2022.  (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

The so-called Cyborgs, relatives of Ukrainian servicemen who died while defending the Donetsk airport, are hugged next to the memory wall of soldiers killed in the Russian-Ukrainian war in central Kiev on January 21, 2022. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images)

What Putin is clearly trying to do, analysts say, is to rebuild Russia’s sphere of influence between the former Soviet republics and satellite states, and drive a surge between Eastern and Western Europe. What motivates him, experts say, is the desire to see emerging democracies like Ukraine fail.

“Putin wants to ensure that his regime of authoritarian political order and the economic system of kleptocracy continue to exist,” Farkas said. “He sees what’s happening on the Ukrainian border as a threat to his system, because if democracy takes off in Ukraine, if it works there, the Russian people will see that and they will see it as an alternative to “increasing oppression” Russian government. “He may have become more paranoid because [recent uprisings] In Belarus, and most recently in Kazakhstan” — the Russian army helped subdue both. “All of this,” she said, “has heightened his interest in eliminating the threat posed by Ukraine and Ukrainian democracy. “

Farkas was deeply shocked by Russia’s growing aggression towards Ukraine, saying Putin was trying to rearrange the world order.

“Americans should care,” she told Yahoo News, “because if Putin gets away with what he did in Ukraine, he’ll turn his attention to other countries within the Soviet sphere of influence,” such as the Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia And Estonia – and Poland, are NATO members. “Then he will start threatening their sovereignty. The US will be obliged to protect these countries under Article V of NATO. If we don’t, then NATO will fall apart. If NATO falls apart, then Putin will do what he can in Europe and then all Europeans will all have to fend for themselves.”

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