The Big Picture: The U.S. and NATO Have Been Trying to Encircle Russia Militarily Since 1991
The American press portrays Putin as being the bad guy and the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis.
Putin is certainly no saint. A former KGB agent, Putin’s net worth is estimated at some $40 billion dollars … as he has squeezed money out of the Russian economy by treating the country as his own personal fiefdom. And all sides appear to have dirt on their hands in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
But we can only see the bigger picture if we take a step back and gain a little understanding of the history underlying the current tensions.
Indeed, the fact that the U.S. has allegedly paid billions of dollars to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine – and even purportedly picked the Ukrainian president – has to be seen in context.
Veteran New York Times reporter Steven Kinzer notes at the Boston Globe:
From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. [Background here, here and here.] It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.
“I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” warned George Kennan, the renowned diplomat and Russia-watcher, as NATO began expanding eastward. “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies.”
Stephen Cohen – professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University who has long focused on Russia – explained this weekend on CNN:
We are witnessing as we talk the making possibly of the worst history of our lifetime. We are watching the descending of a new cold war divide between west and east, only this time, it is not in far away Berlin, it’s right on Russia’s borders through the historical civilization in Ukraine. It’s a crisis of historic magnitude. If you ask how we got in it, how we got into the crisis, and how therefore do we get out, it is time to stop asking why Putin – why Putin is doing this or that, but ask about the American policy, and the European Union policy that led to this moment….