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Russia’s Aggression Is Uprovoked Except For That Part About NATO

The United States is not an innocent, disinterested observer.

5 min readMar 14, 2022


In story after story that I’ve read about the war in Ukraine, I see Vladimir Putin portrayed as a madman. I see a narrative that depicts the war in Ukraine as if it started in a vacuum. He wants the gas. He wants the lithium. He wants to restore the USSR. NATO expansion is mostly absent from the narrative. We have been led to believe that Putin is the only provocateur.

The mainstream narrative tells us that there is no way that Putin can justify the war and that the West had nothing to do with it. Nothing that I’m about to say should be construed as justification for the war in Ukraine. However, it is reasonable to expect that war could erupt after 30 years of financial, political and military aggression waged by the West against Russia.

Decades ago, I took a conflict resolution class. It was a 60-hour course designed by people who had studied the topic for many years longer than I had. What I learned in that class, I still carry to this day. There are always two sides, at least two competing interests in every conflict.

I’m not here to say war is justified in any sense. I am here to say that Putin was definitely provoked. Putin’s war was provoked first and foremost by the United States. No one else really had an interest in provoking Putin to engage in war. Not Europe. Not his country. Not even the former satellite states of the USSR.

America imposed financial sanctions in 2014, long before the first Russian soldier set foot in Ukraine. In December 2021, President Biden shared with us some of the intelligence gathered about Russian troop movements. The war was anticipated as a possible outcome by our intelligence services, yet our best intelligence did not prevent the war.

America has been breaking promises with Russia for 30 years, beginning with a promise not to expand NATO east of Germany since the disintegration of the USSR. That was a union of soviet socialist republics. How many of those republics have joined NATO? From Wikipedia:

On 12 March 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined NATO; Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and…