MOSCOW, August 26 (RIA Novosti) – The West ought to fundamentally change its approach towards the Ukrainian crisis, making Ukraine a 'neutral buffer' between Russia and NATO instead of westernizing it, asserts John J. Mearsheimer, American professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.
"The United States and its European allies now face a choice on Ukraine. They can continue their current policy, which will exacerbate hostilities with Russia and devastate Ukraine in the process – a scenario in which everyone would come out a loser. Or they can switch gears and work to create a prosperous but neutral Ukraine, one that does not threaten Russia and allows the West to repair its relations with Moscow. With that approach, all sides would win," he emphasizes in his article "Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault," recently published in Foreign Affairs magazine.
According to the myth circulating in the western mainstream media, Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to "resuscitate the Soviet empire," and overthrow Ukrainian President Yanukovych, pointing to Russia's incorporation of Crimea as pretext. These arguments, however, collapse upon careful scrutiny, the professor notes, as "if Putin were committed to creating a greater Russia, signs of his intentions would almost certainly have arisen before February 22." It is the United States and its European allies who bear most of responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis, he adds.
The root of the problem lies in rapid expansion of NATO and the EU in Eastern Europe towards Russia's borders, which had begun immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian coup has evidently become "the final straw" for Moscow, the professor underscores. According to John J. Mearsheimer, Vladimir Putin's decision to protect Crimea was spontaneous, as "he [Putin] feared [Crimea] would host a NATO naval base." Since the Pentagon and the pro-western Ukrainian elite have repeatedly considered Russia's Black Sea Fleet expelling from the peninsular, his anxiety was not groundless.
"US and European leaders blundered in attempting to turn Ukraine into a Western stronghold on Russia’s border. Now that the consequences have been laid bare, it would be an even greater mistake to continue this misbegotten policy," the professor stresses.
Putin's reaction is quite understandable, asserts the author. "Imagine the American outrage if China built an impressive military alliance and tried to include Canada and Mexico," he writes. John J. Mearsheimer emphasizes that Washington should realize the logic behind Moscow's stance, although it may dislike it. "This is Geopolitics 101: great powers are always sensitive to potential threats near their home territory," reminds the professor.
The US sanctions policy against Russia is a road to nowhere, he adds, as history has repeatedly shown countries could "absorb enormous amounts of punishment in order to protect their core strategic interests." John J. Mearsheimer believes that the US and its European allies should suspend NATO's expansion into Ukraine and Georgia as well. Furthermore, the West should present a viable economic recovery plan for Ukraine and join efforts with Moscow to accomplish this task. Along with this Washington and Brussels should "considerably limit" their social-engineering practice in Ukraine. Thus, neutral and prosperous Ukraine will become a "win-win" solution for all sides, stresses the professor.