Geopolitics (Too "Whataboutery" for Other Threads).

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Mciahel Goodman

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This is getting silly now. The first two sentences, I don’t really know what to say. By your logic anything which needs approval somehow means the approver could be seen as making the original decision? Please, don’t die on that horse but that’s your call.

The second point is not relevant because those advances only occurred because of Ukraines desire to join NATO. If Ukraine says no, those NATO “advances” (totally incorrect word again, by the way), don’t happen.
It is relevant if you read the last two pages. NATO understood that its advances in Ukraine would be viewed as hostile by Russia. There's no getting around that even if you think NATO and Ukraine were/are in the right.

This is worth reading/listening to:

https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/update...d-haass?utm_medium=social_owned&utm_source=tw

It has nothing to do with approval, and everything to do with de facto militarization which is admitted openly. That's where the provocation comes in, whether you think it just or not.
 
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frostbite

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I just gave a defense of NATO and Ukrainian right to self-autonomy above. But you can't give that defense without also acknowledging that it would be viewed as a provocation.

Read the article on Burns. None of that precludes Ukrainian autonomy but nor does it preclude the idea that NATO action in Ukraine would be seen as provocation.
Yes, I acknowledge that Russia sees the existence of NATO as a provocation, but can you tell me what do you believe the alternative is? For Ukraine, and for NATO. Not what someone else believes, because I cannot talk to them. I am curious what *you* believe the alternative is. It is a sincere question.
 

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Yes, I acknowledge it, but can you tell me what do you believe the alternative is? Not what someone else believes, because I cannot talk to them. I am curious what *you* believe the alternative is. It is a sincere question.
I'm not sure there is an alternative. Not sure there was one, anyway.

As of now, neutrality, EU membership, Russian reparation pending sanctions relief, serious security guarantees (though just short of the nuclear pact). Minsk, basically, but with added Russian reparations and EU membership for Ukraine. And there'll need to be a serious kind of Marshall Plan.
 

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Ukraine doesn't make that decision alone. NATO has to ratify it. And NATO made advances within Ukraine post-2014.
And Ukraine ramped up their desire / process to join NATO because Russian forces were actively fighting inside of Ukrainian territory.

That's a Russian provocation, just so we are clear.
 

Mciahel Goodman

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And Ukraine ramped up their desire / process to join NATO because Russian forces were actively fighting inside of Ukrainian territory.

That's a Russian provocation, just so we are clear.
Yeah, a series of provocations and counter-provocations, both NATO and Russian. I don't disagree with that.
 

frostbite

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I accept that Russia sees NATO as a provocation, and would like to see NATO dissolved. I acknowledge that.

It is also true that Russia would like to see the EU dissolved. It is better for Russia to have to deal with separate countries that are weaker than Russia, and not have to deal with blocks that are much stronger than Russia. In Greece, the politicians that support Russia today, are the same politicians that wanted Grexit 10 years ago. And I read that Russia helped Brexit. And obviously Russia helps Orban.


So what should NATO and EU do? Should they both dissolve to make Russia happy?
 

Mciahel Goodman

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I accept that Russia sees NATO as a provocation, and would like to see NATO dissolved. I acknowledge that.

It is also true that Russia would like to see the EU dissolved. It is better for Russia to have to deal with separate countries that are weaker than Russia, and not have to deal with blocks that are much stronger than Russia. In Greece, the politicians that support Russia today, are the same politicians that wanted Grexit 10 years ago. And I read that Russia helped Brexit. And obviously Russia helps Orban.


So what should NATO and EU do? Should they both dissolve to make Russia happy?
I think they're different cases. Russia says it has no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, for instance. As for the EU, I think there are nationalist and internationalist forces within the EU which operate independently of Russia. The left often opposed the EU because of labour issues and right because of nationalist issues. Brexit wasn't a Russian conspiracy. The Tory backbench was responsible for that but half the Labour frontbench lobbied for an exit for decades, back when Russia was the USSR.

Neither are going to dissolve but regarding NATO there has to be a way to meet Russian security concerns without compromising on individual members' right to choose bloc alliance. Don't have a solution for you.
 

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It is relevant if you read the last two pages. NATO understood that its advances in Ukraine would be viewed as hostile by Russia. There's no getting around that even if you think NATO and Ukraine were/are in the right.

This is worth reading/listening to:

https://www.cfr.org/podcasts/update...d-haass?utm_medium=social_owned&utm_source=tw

It has nothing to do with approval, and everything to do with de facto militarization which is admitted openly. That's where the provocation comes in, whether you think it just or not.
You mentioned ratification (aka approval), not me.
 

frostbite

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I think they're different cases. Russia says it has no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, for instance. As for the EU, I think there are nationalist and internationalist forces within the EU which operate independently of Russia. The left often opposed the EU because of labour issues and right because of national issues. Brexit wasn't a Russian conspiracy. The Tory backbench was responsible for that.

Neither are going to dissolve but regarding NATO there has to be a way to meet Russian security concerns without compromising on individual members' right to choose bloc alliance. Don't have a solution for you.
Why do you think that "Russia says it has no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO"? I know they said that, but why do *you* think this is true. Obviously, you believe it is true, since you refer to it, if you thought it is just another lie you wouldn't refer to it. What do you think is the practical difference for Russia if it is Finland or Latvia or Ukraine that joins NATO?


And it is a fact that Russia worked as much as it could to dissolve EU. Do you disagree? Of course, local politicians are responsible (well, actually the people who vote for them are responsible). But Russia did as much as it could to assist the nuts and the crazies that can destroy the EU. Don't you agree with this?
 

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I think they're different cases. Russia says it has no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO, for instance. As for the EU, I think there are nationalist and internationalist forces within the EU which operate independently of Russia. The left often opposed the EU because of labour issues and right because of nationalist issues. Brexit wasn't a Russian conspiracy. The Tory backbench was responsible for that but half the Labour frontbench lobbied for an exit for decades, back when Russia was the USSR.

Neither are going to dissolve but regarding NATO there has to be a way to meet Russian security concerns without compromising on individual members' right to choose bloc alliance. Don't have a solution for you.
The bottom line is Ukraine can choose to do what it wants. It doesn’t need to consider Russia’s security concerns. That is why the invasion is solely Russia’s responsibility.

Now, that’s a separate issue to whether Ukraine would be sensible to ignore Russian security concerns. But a part of that is Russia’s responsibility in accepting a sovereign state’s decision, at least to not invade them. Sure they can put political pressure. Raise tariffs. Restrict borders. I dunno, whatever. That’s all within the bounds of the law right or wrong.

Whatever the solution, the starting point has to be Ukraine deciding what it wants.
 

rpitroda

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Why do you think that "Russia says it has no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO"? I know they said that, but why do *you* think this is true. Obviously, you believe it is true, since you refer to it, if you thought it is just another lie you wouldn't refer to it. What do you think is the practical difference for Russia if it is Finland or Latvia or Ukraine that joins NATO?


And it is a fact that Russia worked as much as it could to dissolve EU. Do you disagree? Of course, local politicians are responsible (well, actually the people who vote for them are responsible). But Russia did as much as it could to assist the nuts and the crazies that can destroy the EU. Don't you agree with this?
A bit tongue in cheek but he won’t agree with you because if it’s the US interfering or influencing, it’s provocation and an explanation for turmoil. But not Russia.
 

Mciahel Goodman

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Why do you think that "Russia says it has no problem with Finland and Sweden joining NATO"? I know they said that, but why do *you* think this is true. Obviously, you believe it is true, since you refer to it, if you thought it is just another lie you wouldn't refer to it. What do you think is the practical difference for Russia if it is Finland or Latvia or Ukraine that joins NATO?
It comes with a caveat, but one that doesn't seem problematic:

[Putin's] comments appeared to indicate the Kremlin could live with Finnish and Swedish Nato membership provided the military alliance did not dispatch arms or troops to the two countries — as it did in the Baltic states and eastern Europe in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sweden has repeatedly said it does not want Nato military bases on its soil or to host nuclear missiles. Finland is thought to be unlikely to want either, but said on Sunday that it would not set conditions before its membership. Putin said Nato expansion in itself was “a completely artificial problem because it’s all done in US interests”. He added: “The problem has basically come out of nothing, but we’ll react to it appropriately”, while complaining that Nato was also trying to “control and influence the international security situation in other parts of the world, not for the best”.
https://www.ft.com/content/b3f29756-06e1-443d-8364-bd98c7cd19d4

And it is a fact that Russia worked as much as it could to dissolve EU. Do you disagree? Of course, local politicians are responsible (well, actually the people who vote for them are responsible). But Russia did as much as it could to assist the nuts and the crazies that can destroy the EU. Don't you agree with this?
Yeah, it probably lobbied in that direction but that's overlapping self-interest, not Russian conspiracy. Again, both right and left segments have been against the EU prior to Russia's existence post-USSR.
 

Mciahel Goodman

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The bottom line is Ukraine can choose to do what it wants. It doesn’t need to consider Russia’s security concerns. That is why the invasion is solely Russia’s responsibility.
That's the ideal scenario but all talks aimed at resolution reject that idealism out of hand because there will have to be compromise from both sides to end the war. In the same respect you could say that the Palestinians will choose what they want and will not give an inch of territory to Israel. In reality, though, they're offering to cede 80% of their former lands.
 

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That's the ideal scenario but all talks aimed at resolution reject that idealism out of hand because there will have to be compromise from both sides to end the war.
Which is again Ukraine’s decision. If the government and people of Ukraine would rather fight and resist than give up their ideals of joining NATO or the EU then that’s their choice. If they decide they want to give all of that up, then that’s their choice and the US and NATO will have to accept it. Maybe they’ll need to compromise to end the war, but let’s be damn clear that they shouldn’t have to compromise on anything because it should have been up to them what they do. But because of a Russian invasion which Russia is solely responsible for, they are in this sad, unfortunate and devastating situation. And it’s a shame you’ve lost sight of that.
 

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But the consensus is that NATO knew its expansion in Ukraine would lead to some version of this. It doesn't mitigate responsibility but it does hint at provocation. Because even if Putin is delusional, and NATO is not a threat to Russia, the consensus is that the US and allies understood that Russia viewed NATO (in Ukraine) as a red flag and continued anyway. You can say the provocation is just because Ukraine has a right to determine its own future, but you cannot say that the provocation's likely outcomes were not understood, in advance, to constitute a provocation. And that's the basic point Mearsheimer and many in US security positions were making all along. All of whom also condemned Putin and his invasion.
Reading the discussion of the past few pages, I'm wondering if the whole NATO isn't a kind of red herring. It was discussed many (many-many) pages ago that Russia might be less bothered by Ukraine's NATO membership than by the general concept of Ukraine sliding into the EU/NATO sphere of influence. Cause that would mean (1) the gradual/partial loss of a major strategic and economic regional partner; and (2) a country that Russians consider a real sister country turning into a liberal democracy (which might give Russians ideas as well).

(This was brought up by @oneniltothearsenal first I think, and someone mentioned it the past few pages as well, but I can't find that back now.)

So maybe the point for Russia isn't so much that Ukraine joining NATO poses a thread, but that they think that it would give them the material for internal and external messaging that could justify an invasion. I.e., Russia want to attack anyway because Ukraine is slipping away from them, but they feel they can't do it just for that reason. But if Ukraine looks to be joining NATO, then Russia can make a big noise about that and escalate that rhetoric to a justification for an invasion.

In their eyes, of course; regardless of whether we and others agree. But the NATO membership discussion would then be a (fully hollow) pretext for war, and US intelligence services would probably have been aware of that, and through them US government officials. (Although I am less sure about people like Mearsheimer and Chomsky, who from what I've seen seem to argue largely from Cold War logic, that I think is less relevant now. Like the Cuba missiles discussion of the past few pages, that now turns out to be irrelevant due to changing military realities.)
I'm not sure there is an alternative. Not sure there was one, anyway.

As of now, neutrality, EU membership, Russian reparation pending sanctions relief, serious security guarantees (though just short of the nuclear pact). Minsk, basically, but with added Russian reparations and EU membership for Ukraine. And there'll need to be a serious kind of Marshall Plan.
If my reasoning above is correct, there would indeed have been no alternative - except if Ukraine would have turned around and started looking to Russia instead of the EU again. A pretext would have presented itself to Russia one way or another - if not NATO membership, then something else.
 
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Mciahel Goodman

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So maybe the point for Russia isn't so much that Ukraine joining NATO poses a thread, but that they think that it would give them the material for internal and external messaging that could justify an invasion. I.e., Russia want to attack anyway because Ukraine is slipping away from them, but they feel they can't do it just for that reason. But if Ukraine looks to be joining NATO, then Russia can make a big noise about that and escalate that rhetoric to a justification for an invasion.
I think there's too much gone before for this to hold. Russia didn't want NATO presence in Ukraine post-2014. It didn't manufacture what would be a disaster from the Russian point of view, which is NATO militarization in Ukraine, just to launch another potential disaster.
 

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It comes with a caveat, but one that doesn't seem problematic:


https://www.ft.com/content/b3f29756-06e1-443d-8364-bd98c7cd19d4


Yeah, it probably lobbied in that direction but that's overlapping self-interest, not Russian conspiracy. Again, both right and left segments have been against the EU prior to Russia's existence post-USSR.
I don't care about conspiracies, those are for crazies who want to find a simple explanation for everything. There are always many forces in any country.

However, the actions of Russia are more "monolithic" because they have a dictatorship. Different Russians may have different opinions, but at the end Putin decides. And Putin, in the past 20 years, tried to undermine the EU as much as he could. Definitely he cannot destroy the EU on his own, if it was up to him he would do it, but of course he can't. He tried to create as many problems as possible. Do we agree on this?
 

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Which is again Ukraine’s decision. If the government and people of Ukraine would rather fight and resist than give up their ideals of joining NATO or the EU then that’s their choice. If they decide they want to give all of that up, then that’s their choice and the US and NATO will have to accept it. Maybe they’ll need to compromise to end the war, but let’s be damn clear that they shouldn’t have to compromise on anything because it should have been up to them what they do. But because of a Russian invasion which Russia is solely responsible for, they are in this sad, unfortunate and devastating situation. And it’s a shame you’ve lost sight of that.
I don't see Russia as solely responsible for the events that led up to the invasion, no. I see them as responsible for the invasion, but not for all the events that led up to it. Provocation and counter provocation. But I do agree that Ukrainians are the victims, and, insofar as the invasion goes, that Putin is the primary aggressor.

They shouldn't have to, but they will have to. That's not exceptional to Ukraine but the rule of all conflict resolution.
 

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However, the actions of Russia are more "monolithic" because they have a dictatorship. Different Russians may have different opinions, but at the end Putin decides. And Putin, in the past 20 years, tried to undermine the EU as much as he could. Definitely he cannot destroy the EU on his own, if it was up to him he would do it, but of course he can't. He tried to create as many problems as possible. Do we agree on this?
Don't know. It's possible. I think the US also wanted Brexit, but for different reasons. So very possible that Putin wanted it, too. Especially if he thought it would lead to destabalization in Europe more generally. Also, not sure on the monolithic argument. Or, at least, US foreign policy tends to be pretty monolithic over a given period but not because they have dictators.
 

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I think there's too much gone before for this to hold. Russia didn't want NATO presence in Ukraine post-2014. It didn't manufacture what would be a disaster from the Russian point of view, which is NATO militarization in Ukraine, just to launch another potential disaster.
Just to clarify that I didn't say that Russia would manufacture anything; just that they thought this provided a welcome pretext for an invasion they were considering anyway. In that line of thought, Russia wasn't actually concerned by Ukraine considering NATO membership per se; and anyway, they would (and did) obviously invade before Ukraine is a NATO country and militarizes accordingly.
 

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Don't know. It's possible. I think the US also wanted Brexit, but for different reasons. So very possible that Putin wanted it, too. Especially if he thought it would lead to destabalization in Europe more generally.
Okay. So it seems to me we agree on a number of issues.

1. Russia has Putin as an autocrat. In Russia "democracy" is much weaker than in most EU countries.
2. Between the Russian State, and any EU State, we prefer the European.
3. Russia tried to undermine EU democracies as much as they could.
4. Russia is not justified in invading Ukraine.
5. Russia is responsible for thousands of deaths in Ukraine, both Ukrainians soldiers and civilians, and their own Russian soldiers.

Now, where do we disagree?

Given all the above, at this point in time when we have a full scale bloody war, my opinion is that it is irrelevant what Putin and the Russians think of as a "provocation". They are clearly the aggressor here. In my opinion, this is similar to talking about what Hitler thought was a provocation against Germany (and yes, there are books about this, the Versailles treaty, the reparations and so on ).

Also, I have read that even the existence of "Western Democracy" is a provocation for some Russian theoreticians and politicians, because the Russian Soul is different. European democracy will bring Gay Parades in Russia and this will destroy the Russian Soul. And if Russia loses its Soul, why should it exist at all? Yes, there are such nihilistic nationalistic forces in Russia.


We can acknowledge all that. Even if we believe that it is bullshit. But the question is what can we do in practice? You said you do not have an answer. The only possibility I can see is what Finland and Sweden are doing. Russians can find many real or imagined provocations, we cannot do much about it, we can only protect ourselves from them.
 
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Mciahel Goodman

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Just to clarify that I didn't say that Russia would manufacture anything; just that they thought this provided a welcome pretext for an invasion they were considering anyway. In that line of thought, Russia wasn't actually concerned by Ukraine considering NATO membership per se; and anyway, they would (and did) obviously invade before Ukraine is a NATO country and militarizes accordingly.
I think it gives Russia too much credit. Just as they couldn't have foreseen the entirety of the US/EU response, I don't think they were planning that far in advance. I don't think they invade Ukraine no matter what.

Now, where do we disagree?
Probably just in terms of the events that led up to the invasion. Also we'll likely disagree about the Donbas and the shelling in that region which Russia is not innocent of but nor is/was it the sole practitioner.

As for a solution, I don't think Ukraine in NATO is a false position on Russia's behalf. It's probably the key issue for them along with militarization which can't be separated from it.

What reasons? Obama spoke against it ahead of the vote, to the degree it was adequate for him to do so as President of another country.
Always thought that was calculated to achieve a negative response. "America interfering in British affairs" to be used in nationalist papers to rile up the pro-Brexit crowd, but that's for a different thread.
 

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I don't see Russia as solely responsible for the events that led up to the invasion, no. I see them as responsible for the invasion, but not for all the events that led up to it. Provocation and counter provocation. But I do agree that Ukrainians are the victims, and, insofar as the invasion goes, that Putin is the primary aggressor.

They shouldn't have to, but they will have to. That's not exceptional to Ukraine but the rule of all conflict resolution.
Primary aggressor? Who are the others?
 

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Primary aggressor? Who are the others?
NATO. That's the entire point I've been making. Russia is responsible for invading. NATO bears some responsibility for its militarization of Ukraine and the actions in the Donbass region.

Russia should have settled it, or tried to, via international diplomacy. Instead it invaded. After that, you can blame Putin all day. Before that, there's a legitimate series of events that have more than one actor.
 

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If you're going to reply to a question you should at least answer it.
Again are you seriously asking having the organisation led by the most dangerous and aggressive country in the world that has gone on to invade countries half way across the world putting nukes next door to you should be considered a genuine threat?
 

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Again are you seriously asking having the organisation led by the most dangerous and aggressive country in the world that has gone on to invade countries half way across the world putting nukes next door to you should be considered a genuine threat?
Have you forgotten the question already? Here it is again:

Do you really think NATO is going to go and invade Russia if it secures Ukraine in its group?
 

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No, I think eight years of NATO consolidation in Ukraine was a provocation. Not justification, though. When the results of what you're doing can be predicted years in advance, and it comes to fruition, then it's hard to say it wasn't, in some respect, however much you weigh it, a provocation and that it wasn't understood as such.
So Ukraine got battered by Russia in 2014, lost a chunk of its territory so decided to try to partner with the large regional security organisation next door. This was a "provocation" to Russia. ie a bit like a thug is provoked into beating his partner when she phones the police?

The only reason Russia was "provoked" is because they thought they, illegally and illegitimately, thought they had a claim to Ukraine.
 

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Again are you seriously asking having the organisation led by the most dangerous and aggressive country in the world that has gone on to invade countries half way across the world putting nukes next door to you should be considered a genuine threat?
He's asking if NATO would consider invading Russia. It's a fair question. While NATO literature has often promoted the idea of a balcanized Russia, made up of many states, I don't see them willing to invade Russia directly. Ukraine is about as close as they'll get. The reason being that an invasion of Russia proper implies MAD.

In the lead up to the invasion, I do think Putin basically considered NATO action in Ukraine to be a kind of invasion by the backdoor. No, they didn't invade Ukraine but I wonder if Putin, paranoid or not, didn't consider it to be a step too far.

So Ukraine got battered by Russia in 2014, lost a chunk of its territory so decided to try to partner with the large regional security organisation next door. This was a "provocation" to Russia. ie a bit like a thug is provoked into beating his partner when she phones the police?

The only reason Russia was "provoked" is because they thought they, illegally and illegitimately, thought they had a claim to Ukraine.
Yes. That's the gist of "sphere of influence" and would seem to be backed up by American thinking on the topic. I'm not saying Russia was morally correct to perceive the provocation, only that they did perceive NATO militarization of Ukraine to be a provocation and that NATO knew this to be the case.
 

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Again are you seriously asking having the organisation led by the most dangerous and aggressive country in the world that has gone on to invade countries half way across the world putting nukes next door to you should be considered a genuine threat?
Yes, because it isn't, because NATO isn't going to invade or nuke Russia unless Russia invades or nukes NATO first... pretending that that isn't the case is silly.
 

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That's the gist of "sphere of influence" and would seem to be backed up by American thinking on the topic. I'm not saying Russia was morally correct to perceive the provocation, only that they did perceive NATO militarization of Ukraine to be a provocation and that NATO knew this to be the case.
Sigh. Again with the loose language. "NATO's militarisation of Ukraine" make it sound like the NATO CAP, was a weapons programme rather than mostly being around building defensive institutions and organisations (now being put to good use BTW).

"Spheres of influence" and "an illegal claim to another country's territory" are not the same thing BTW.
 

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Sigh. Again with the loose language. "NATO's militarisation of Ukraine" make it sound like the NATO CAP, was a weapons programme rather than mostly being around building defensive institutions and organisations (now being put to good use BTW).

"Spheres of influence" and "a claim to another country's territory" are not the same thing BTW.
NATO's militarizastion of Ukraine was a comprehensive militarization of Ukraine according to NATO standards. Their entire army was reconstituted, various bases were rebuilt, and massive plans for other bases, including significant naval bases, were laid out. The article I posted earlier does a good job of going through it all.

SOI is basically a proxy claim to another country's territory insofar as influence goes. Pretty similar. I agree they aren't the same, but that's obvious by looking at Ukraine and Russia pre and post Maidan when Russia took those territories previously held by proxy.
 

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NATO's militarizastion of Ukraine was a comprehensive militarization of Ukraine according to NATO standards. Their entire army was reconstituted, various bases were rebuilt, and massive plans for other bases, including significant naval bases, were laid out. The article I posted earlier does a good job of going through it all.
I wonder why that happened..?
 

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NATO. That's the entire point I've been making. Russia is responsible for invading. NATO bears some responsibility for its militarization of Ukraine and the actions in the Donbass region.

Russia should have settled it, or tried to, via international diplomacy. Instead it invaded. After that, you can blame Putin all day. Before that, there's a legitimate series of events that have more than one actor.
So NATO is an aggressor in the invasion of Ukraine?
 

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So NATO is an aggressor in the invasion of Ukraine?
Didn't say that. I said they bear some responsibility for the events prior to the Russian invasion. And as was just pointed out you can say their position was in response to Russian action and just keep going back.