Ukraine – We were warned, time and time again


In 2008, CIA director Bill Burns: “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for [Russia]” and “I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests”

The first one is George Kennan, arguably America’s greatest ever foreign policy strategist, the architect of the U.S. cold war strategy. As soon as 1998 he warned that NATO expansion was a “tragic mistake” that ought to ultimately provoke a “bad reaction from Russia”.

Kissinger, in 2014, warned that “to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country” and that the West therefore needs a policy that is aimed at “reconciliation”. He was also adamant that “Ukraine should not join NATO”.

This is John Mearsheimer – probably the leading geopolitical scholar in the US today – in 2015:

“The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked […] What we’re doing is in fact encouraging that outcome.”

Jack F. Matlock Jr., US Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987-1991, warned in 1997 that NATO expansion was “the most profound strategic blunder, [encouraging] a chain of events that could produce the most serious security threat […] since the Soviet Union collapsed”.

William Clinton’s defense secretary William Perry said in his memoir that to him NATO enlargement is the cause of “the rupture in relations with Russia” and that in 1996 he was so opposed to it that “in the strength of my conviction, I considered resigning”.

In 2015, Noam Chomsky said that “the idea that Ukraine might join a Western military alliance would be quite unacceptable to any Russian leader” and that Ukraine’s desire to join NATO “is not protecting Ukraine, it is threatening Ukraine with major war.”

Stephen Cohen, a famed scholar of Russian studies, warned in 2014 that “if we move NATO forces toward Russia’s borders […] it’s obviously gonna militarize the situation [and] Russia will not back off, this is existential.”

More recently, right before war broke out, this is famous economist Jeffrey Sachs writing a column in the FT warning that “NATO enlargement is utterly misguided and risky. True friends of Ukraine, and of global peace, should be calling for a US and NATO compromise with Russia.”