John Mearsheimer, political scientist and professor at the University of Chicago, said that it was the possibility of Ukraine becoming a NATO member state that became the underlying cause of the Donbass crisis, according to RIA Novosti.
"Russia would’ve never allowed this to happen, and its stance is perfectly justified. I don’t know what the US and the Western European nations were thinking when they believed they could expand NATO by including Georgia and Ukraine. I believe that it was a huge mistake," he said.
He also remarked that ironically when the US and its Western European allies were discussing NATO expansion and the accession of Ukraine and Georgia to the military bloc, they didn’t do it in order to somehow contain Russia, just like they didn’t perceive the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin as aggressive.
"Until the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis in February 2014 no one in the West claimed that Russia intends to conquer territory of the countries to the west of it. No one spoke of some Russian military invasion into Ukraine or Baltic States. Essentially, the ones who wanted to increase their influence in the former Soviet territories and in Eastern Europe were the US and its European allies," the professor said.
Mearsheimer pointed out that in 1999 Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic became NATO members; and in 2004 the organization was further bolstered by the addition of Bulgaria, Romania and the Baltic states, with the latter sharing a border with Russia which effectively put the alliance on Moscow’s doorstep. He also added that at the same time the European Union began an expansion of its own.
"It wasn’t Russia that started moving west, it was the West that started moving east," Mearsheimer concluded.