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93 Foreign Aff. 77 (2014)
Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin

handle is hein.journals/fora93 and id is 1075 raw text is: Why the Ukraine Crisis Is
the West's Fault
The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin
John J Mearsheimer
According to the prevailing wisdom in the West, the Ukraine
crisis can be blamed almost entirely on Russian aggression.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed
Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire,
and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other
countries in eastern Europe. In this view, the ouster of Ukrainian
President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 merely provided a pre-
text for Putin's decision to order Russian forces to seize part of Ukraine.
But this account is wrong: the United States and its European allies
share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble
is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move
Ukraine out of Russia's orbit and integrate it into the West. At the
same time, the EU's expansion eastward and the West's backing of the
pro-democracy movement in Ukraine-beginning with the Orange
Revolution in 2004-were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s,
Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in
recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while
their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion.
For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine's democratically elected
and pro-Russian president-which he rightly labeled a coup-was
the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared
would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine
until it abandoned its efforts to join the West.
Putin's pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West
had been moving into Russia's backyard and threatening its core strategic
JOHN J. MEARSHEIMER is R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of
Political Science at the University of Chicago.

September/October 2014   77

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