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Russia invaded Ukraine for the Same Reasons the U.S. got into World War I
A foreign military alliance with a neighboring country entangled us into the Great World War. Now, Russia is facing similar circumstances.
“Any further expansion of the North Atlantic alliance’s infrastructure or the ongoing efforts to gain a military foothold of the Ukrainian territory are unacceptable for us. Of course, the question is not about NATO itself. It merely serves as a tool of US foreign policy. The problem is that in territories adjacent to Russia, which I have to note is our historical land, a hostile “anti-Russia” is taking shape. Fully controlled from the outside, it is doing everything to attract NATO armed forces and obtain cutting-edge weapons.”
-Vladamir Putin, address of the Russian Federation on February 24th, 2022 (day 1 of the Russian invasion into Ukraine).
Ukraine is a sovereign country. They’re allowed to join any military alliance they want, right?
Ostensibly, those who support the expansion of the NATO-military alliance up to Russia’s front doorstep would talk about an unhinged and bitter Putin, with his finger on the nuclear codes, ready to expand his empire into eastern Europe. The “cold warriors” and Russia hawks would say: look at what they’ve done! Russia attacked Georgia, annexed Crimea, and now invaded Ukraine, unprovoked!
In an ideal world, it is appropriate for any state to join a military alliance in the pursuit of their own security—but in the real world it never works this way. Granted, Ukraine does have legitimate security concerns from Russian power, but ask the question with the shoe on the other foot: Can Mexico join any military alliance they want? Even a Warsaw-like pact with the Russian Federation? No, of course they can’t. Americans would not stand for this—and when Mexico nearly did in 1917, we went to war over it.
The Zimmerman Telegram of 1917 was a seminal piece of intelligence that led the U.S. from breaking their longstanding neutrality and finally entering the first major world conflict. Up until the spring of 1917, U.S. involvement remained one of the greatest variables for the outcome of the war. Not even the 123 American casualties in the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 was enough to push the Americans out of neutrality. The encrypted telegram sent by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman urged a military alliance, promised regained territory and financial support for Mexico should the United States declare war on Germany. This discovery helped sway congress and the American people into a war with the Kaiser. With German U-Boat unrestricted submarine warfare set to resume in February of ‘17, a repeat of the Lusitania sinking seemed like an inevitability. To the Germans, provoking Mexico into a war with the U.S. over lost territory was seen as a way to slow supply shipments and man-power to the European war. To the U.S., it was an unacceptable act of diplomatic aggression, an opinion largely shared by both the state and it’s citizenry.
Now, consider the trajectory of NATO expansion since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In agreement for giving up the territories of the former Soviet Union, Gorbachev disbanded his control over the soviet republics of Eastern Europe on the spoken agreement that NATO would not expand “one inch” past Germany. Later that decade, Poland, Czech Republic, and Romania would all join the ranks of NATO. American arms manufacturers had benefited in billions from this expansion. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the IBMF treaty and allowed the Open Skies treaty to expire.
Several disarmament treaties signed by the United States and Russia have been disbanded by our presidents. We aided in the coup against Russian leaning leaders in Ukraine in 2014 and their continued support in the war against the Donbass region since that time.
In the eyes of the Kremlin, this pressure surmounted in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s trip to the United States in September of 2021. Although his repeated requests to join NATO was not granted outright, he was given strong assurances of military and financial support. "The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression and our support for Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations," U.S. President Joe Biden told the Ukrainian President. Over two dozen weapons packages have been given to Ukraine since the Russian Invasion last February, as well as a continuing CIA presence, and a deliberate sabotage of peace negotiations by the west. Actions that make Ukraine a “de facto NATO member” according to their defense minister.
We are now in what is possibly the most heightened tensions with Russia since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. In the west, we largely unanimously condemn the invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory by the Russians, but we act as if history started on February 24th, 2022. Ukraine’s alliance with NATO is a redline for Russia, just like Mexico’s alliance with Germany would have been in 1917 for the United States.
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