Seeking clarity on the Russian war: Russia’s side of the story
In February of 2022, Russia launched an invasion of its neighbor Ukraine, leading to nearly universal condemnation from Western countries. The war has been a source of much controversy in the United States, sparking debates around American funding and involvement. Many on both sides of the debate have referenced the war as being completely unprovoked, but a deeper look into the conflict shows that Russia did have cause to make the move.
Russia’s motivations for the invasion of Ukraine come down to a desire for strategic safety and national sovereignty, something that NATO has threatened for decades. According to NPR, Russia has repeatedly been trying to get the West, particularly the United States, to stop NATO expansion eastward in exchange for various concessions, including the unification of Germany in the 1990s. Russia has long since pleaded with NATO not to expand eastward — a plea that has fallen on deaf ears.
But why does it matter if NATO moves east or not? A quick look at history will explain. Ukraine and other neighboring states provide Russia with a buffer against what have historically been Western aggressors. Throughout history, whether it be the French armies under Napoleon or Hitler’s attempts during World War II, invasions of Russia have always come through the flat and easily navigable land that makes up most of Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. Anytime a potential adversary from the West tries to exercise dominion over those lands, it triggers memories of the mass national trauma that happened to the Russian people in these previous invasions.
When President Zelenskyy approved a plan that included membership in NATO in 2020, it signaled alarm bells to the Russian government that something similar to the past was coming. In response, the Russian government decided that the best thing to do to protect itself and the only way to guarantee its preservation was to invade. Do not get me wrong, I do not believe that the invasion was the right thing to do, but I also do not believe that NATO is innocent either. Just this week, in a provocation to Russia, Turkey approved the addition of Sweden into NATO, a move that is now only being blocked by the nation of Hungary. Some, including U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, are even still suggesting adding Ukraine despite the country being in the middle of a war.
Despite what many American media outlets may claim, Ukraine is not in a good position to win this war. Without foreign intervention, Russia has enough personnel and resources to outlast and subdue their enemy. The only way Ukraine can keep up the fight is to acquire direct American intervention with American soldiers fighting and dying on European soil. This should not take place under any circumstances. This is not America’s war to win for Ukraine.
The only role the United States should play in this conflict is that of a peacemaker helping to broker a ceasefire. Ukraine has to realize that it will not get all of its land back from Russia, and the U.S. and its allies have to find a way to pull Russia away from its alliances with China. Instituting a ceasefire that includes Russia backing out of alliances with China and Ukraine giving up on its aspirations to join NATO will be incredibly helpful in the long run. Neither side is innocent. Neither side is in the right or the wrong completely. The only thing we should support is an immediate ceasefire.
Hughes is an opinion writer for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on X