The tenets and doctrines of history have left an unambiguous mark by painting a meticulous picture of war and its correlated attributes and pre-warnings that always run behind the root cause of a conflict. Despite the presence of explicit tensions among the rival states, there is always a strong will of efforts projected at accelerating the conflict rather than mitigating it. As it could be examined in the Cold War rivalry between the two superpowers, i.e., the US and the Soviet Union.
Followed by the current post-Cold War mentality that still perpetuates in the veins a few grudge-keeping warlords who pursue the same old path of stubborn war-mongering. A similar set of events can be seen to unhesitatingly repeat itself in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. After more than a decade of discourse that revolves around the reiterated concerns and fears put forward by Russian government against the backdrop of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) eastward expansion, the US and its associated allies have not only avoided, but discarded the threat perceptions potentially raised by Russia and instead justified the process by proclaiming that “NATO enlargement plays no part in the crisis because enlargement provides stability for all of Europe, and therefore is not threatening to Russia.”
The Blind-sided Open-door Policy of NATO and it’s Relation with Russia
The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the confirmation of Russia’s unintended but inevitable end as the major power of the world has proven to be an unformidable and stark element reflected in the pursued policies of US and other leading European powers. In the years followed by its collapse, which can be demonstrated with the help of two courses of action that were adopted by NATO in its first round of enlargement in 1999 and the second round that occurred in 2004, respectively. The initial set of states to be incorporated into NATO was frequently but moderately criticized by the Russian government, which perceived the continuation of this policy as a threat to the national security of the country. However, the rise of terrorism and the formation of a joint council between Russia and NATO temporarily minimized the tensions providing assurance that the expansion of NATO and its immediate agenda are no more to counter Russia, but to work towards the greater role of collective security and promoting a positive political attitude.
Furthermore, Russia’s anti-enlargement rhetoric intensified specifically in the wake of the 2008 Bucharest Summit, in which NATO considered admitting Georgia and Ukraine as official members of an alliance, an idea that was swiftly countered by Putin, cautioning: “We view the appearance of a powerful military bloc on our borders … as a direct threat to the security of our country.” It was soon followed by Russian invasion of Ukraine. Despite, the staggering events and the certainly mentioned appeals of Russian officials and President Putin at various platforms regarding the issue of Georgia and Ukraine as the key strategic domains imperative for maintaining the security of their states in the region, the US and NATO purposely turned a blind eye by following the policy driven by their ideology of liberal world order and economic independence rather than taking the geopolitical realities of the highly significant region into account. Therefore, it makes the region more vulnerable, and eventually provoking Russia to conduct a full-fledged war against Ukraine.
Who to Blame?
There is no denying the fact that Putin is in fact responsible for taking the massive decision to carry out an all-out war on Ukraine, but not to forget or in any way undermine the involvement of NATO and the US and their set of actions that led to subsequent outbreak of war. One cannot stop but to ask oneself an inherently profound, yet bewildered question: what is the actual purpose of NATO? Is it to provide security to a state and keep it secure, or is it to expand its influence to subjugate Russia and its demand of non-intervention in its sphere of influence? Why is the US so obsessed with their idea of promoting democracy even on the verge of jeopardizing the very existence of a state? If the US and NATO were so willed by the pledge to help integrate Ukraine into the alliance, then why have they not fulfilled their promise yet? If they are the sole protectors of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and human rights, then why didn’t they invest their efforts to improve the relations between Ukraine and Russia?
In the face of an ever-escalating crisis putting many more lives at stake along with an unforeseeable future, one cannot possibly evade but to look for answers hidden in the anticipated relics of history. As witnessed decades ago during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, where the US and the Soviet Union were on the brink of a nuclear war and the US used every bit of her strength to stop the deployment of missiles in their neighborhood, then how can it expect her former rival state not to protect its strategically important zone and allow the weapons of NATO to point straight towards its borders? Therefore, it is imperative to look closely and evaluate all such past occurrences and learn the lessons before it partakes in anything other than peace and prosperity.
A Way Forward
It is high time that the US and NATO pay a much-needed attention to the rising tensions and concerns of Russia and articulate their policies as per the requirements of the disrupted circumstances. The US must take the geopolitical component into consideration and make a reliable decision about including a selected number of eastern states into its domain. It is to be based on a thoughtful evaluation of its implications such that, it does not necessarily instigate the security of Russia. Also, to create an opportunity for Russia and Ukraine to help resolve the conflict through a new balance of power peace arrangement maintained by less hostile and aimable coordination of Russia. By doing so, the US and NATO will play their part in saving the planet Earth and its inhabitants from the catastrophic disaster of war, or specifically from a probable nuclear apocalypse of the world.