Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov while speaking to Sky News Arabia said that Russia considers NATO expansion a ‘red line’. Russian president Vladimir Putin towards the end of 2021 and in his discussions with various European leaders also highlighted that Russia will not take lightly the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.
While Ukraine pushes for joining NATO while fending off Russian forces for the time being while being outgunned, US ambassadors to Russia and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger earlier warned on several occasions that NATO expansion would create tensions between Russia and the US as well as Russia and the rest of western Europe.
Jack Matlock while speaking to news agency Democracy Now earlier in February said that NATO expansion would trigger an arms race. While speaking to the news agency Matlock highlighted that the Soviet collapse was not because of the western pressure but due to internal issues which led to its fall.
“If you start piecemeal expanding NATO, you are going to — without including Russia — you are going to once again precipitate a buildup of arms and a competition, an armed competition. There was no reason to do it at that time,” Matlock told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. He further added that at that point of time Russia was not threatening any eastern European country. He also highlighted that the last Soviet Russia premier Mikhail Gorbachev accepted the process of democratisation of the eastern European nations.
Matlock while writing for a blog Responsible Statecraft called the expansion of NATO a strategic blunder. He also said that if Russia’s concerns of not including Ukraine and Georgia in NATO were considered the crisis could have been avoided.
Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state of the United States, while writing for the Wall Street Journal in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea pointed out that Ukraine cannot act as an outpost for either parties but rather should act as a bridge between the West and Russia.
He said that Ukraine is an inalienable part of Russia’s history and identity - similar but in varying degrees to what Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed in his speech before the so-called ‘military operation’ in Ukraine.
“To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system,” Kissinger wrote for the Wall Street Journal.
Kissinger also suggested that Ukrainian independence is a relatively new idea since it has been only two decades that the nation is independent and power-sharing between both Ukrainian speaking west Ukraine and Russophone eastern and southeastern Ukraine should share power to better govern their country.
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