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Russian Aggression is a Predictable Result of Bad Western Policy

Stashed in: Russia and Friends, Russia

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The US should revise its policy of expanding NATO to former Soviet countries. This is a clear red line for Russia upon which it feels obligated to act. With recent political maneuverings, the US is exacerbating the situation and setting up Ukraine and Moldova to suffer the same fate as Georgia.

Beyond the Georgian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the same type of action taken to realign the ethnic Russian population in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula should be expected. More specifically, the next red line that Russia will not allow NATO to cross is the incorporation of the Ukraine to the West….. Again, the Ukraine will be the next target of Russian national military power if the US continues to push for NATO incorporation.

The above wasn’t written recently or in hindsight to the actions this past week in Crimea. It was written in 2008. Well before a Russian incursion into Ukraine garnered any serious thought (unclassified background paper available upon request: “Strategic Context and Implication of the Georgian-Russian War of Aug 2008,” written by author, Oct 2008). Yet, this is almost exactly what has happened. For all the hand-wringing and talk over American “weakness” or “appeasement” that gets irresponsibly thrown around, we need to understand why our immediate reaction now is almost less important than the geopolitical environment that caused first the Georgia-Russia War in 2008 and the invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014. Through this understanding can we develop the proper response and maintain the necessary relationship with Russia as we go forward. This isn’t about a simplistic view of cause and effect based on hindsight resulting in Crimea’s annexation, or being a Russian apologist. Quite simply put, what’s past is prologue and unless our foreign policy and single-tracked mind set on NATO expansion begins to understand this, Crimea won’t be the last inconvenience we have to suffer in the ramp-up to the perfectly avoidable cooling of Russian-US relations. Although nowhere near the severity or risk of the original Cold War, the situation in Ukraine need not nudge us back in that direction.

What is the cause of the current conflict? It’s a classic security dilemma. Again, this is not hindsight bias; this exact Crimean scenario could be predicted within the context of ongoing US and NATO policy back in 2008 when we seriously began considering a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Georgia. Considering the stream of recent history and the systemic nature of the European environment coupled with Russian perceptions of both, there could have been no conclusion other than what we saw occur over the past few weeks.

I do wonder how much Snowden's leaks emboldened Putin.

Snowden may have -- intentionally or not -- done something very bad for the world.

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