‘Putin is the next Hitler’, ‘Putin is the bad egg’, are the recent headlines in strife-torn Ukraine and also at the global platform. I agree with the statement. But what many people fail to notice is that the ‘West’ has also served its role as the culprit in the Ukraine-Russia crisis. To put it precisely for the sake of brevity, ‘The West is the actual culprit!’
Well, I’m not extolling Vladimir Putin, provided with the fact that his idea of deploying troops for the ‘de-Nazification’ of Ukraine is simply stupid and he is accountable for the humanitarian expenses caused. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a clear infringement of the United Nations Charter and it cannot be justified. In this vein, the West is no innocent child. Moving to the other side of the lens, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), is a multilateral organisation that was formed on 4 April 1949. Let me put it this way, NATO was simply formed to counter the threats posed by the USSR in Europe and to protect its allies through ‘collective security’. It was formed to prevent Russian expansionism. What was once formed during the Cold War wasn’t expected to survive till today. But it did.
Travelling back to the year 1955, the drift of Western Germany into NATO engendered the formation of the ‘Warsaw Pact’, which emerged as a counterweight to NATO. The Pact was signed between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc countries (Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania). When the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, NATO had promised Russia that it won’t move an inch towards Eastern Europe if Russia put an end to the Warsaw Pact. And the Pact fragmented in 1991 with the hope that NATO would effectuate its vow. But Russia soon started smelling a rat. NATO was good at throwing dust into Russia’s eyes. It accelerated its expansion towards Eastern Europe, squarely towards the Kremlin doorstep. This was a clear provocation and a breach of faith as it was seen from the Russian vantage point. NATO with 12 founding members bagged the membership of several former Soviet states like Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic in 1999; 7 other former Soviet states in 2004 and it had 30 countries under its umbrella as of 2020. NATO saw Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia, Herzegovina as its aspiring members.
The NATO trajectory also seemed to have touched Ukraine but that’s where Russia drew the line. Russia recognises NATO as a tool to attenuate its security network and interests in Europe. NATO’s open-door policy towards European countries ushered discomfiture in Putin that led to the current Ukrainian invasion. No country that is a NATO ally seems to want to aid Ukraine by sending its forces. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, did go wrong at one point– his erroneous estimation of support from the West. And the result? Ukraine alone is facing the brunt. Now, you know who’s at fault!
One thing is crystal clear – Putin’s strategy is unforeseeable and he certainly has got something up his sleeve. These sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries will only make the poisoned relations between Moscow and the West super-saturated and bolster the conviction of Russia to pressure Ukraine to cut its ties with the West.
Unfortunately, even the diplomatic talks don’t seem to have made any progress. It is too late for Ukraine to wake up now, for it daydreamed and built castles in the air about NATO’s support. The peace talks with Russia would definitely seem to be a hard nut to crack for Ukraine and as for NATO – it must learn a lesson.
The author is a student at St. Ann’s High School, Secunderabad. Views are personal.