Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused the United States and NATO of desiring “global domination.” He attempted to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine by saying, “our special military operation is meant to put an end to the unabashed expansion of NATO and the unabashed drive towards full domination by the U.S. and its Western subjects on the world stage.” He continued, “this domination is built on gross violations of International Law and under some rules, which they are now hyping and make up on a case-by-case basis.” He’s obviously attempting to justify the unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine. However, Ukraine was never a threat to Russia. Paranoia is not something that can be remedied by diplomacy.
Putin originally said the invasion was in response to the “Nazification” of Ukraine. There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, and none has been provided. In fact, if anything, Ukraine has become more friendly to Jews and other minorities in recent years. Many Jews emigrated to Israel and other countries in Europe and the US during the 1970’s, to escape Ukraine and the Soviet Union in general. Jews were treated horribly and not permitted to practice their religion, although all religion was “technically” banned as part of Communist ideology. Karl Marx, the father of Communism wrote, “religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions.” In practice, however, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church played and plays a large role in Ukrainian society. It’s estimated that 200,000 Jews still live in Ukraine. President Zelenskyy, as most people are now aware, is Jewish. The history of Ukraine is replete with horrors against Jews but that’s not the case in 2022.
A conflicting account of why Russia invaded Ukraine was sent by Lavrov via a tweet that stated, “the goal of Russia’s special military operation is to stop any war that could take place on Ukrainian territory that could start from there.” Lavrov needs to clarify that either it’s the de-Nazification of Ukraine or the plan to prevent war in Ukraine as the reason for the invasion. Or was he, at Putin’s direction, simply trying to justify the invasion? In the end, the truth is that Putin simply doesn’t want to allow the expansion of NATO.
To be fair, it’s not difficult to understand why Putin doesn’t want a NATO presence on his border just like we wouldn’t want a Russian presence in Cuba. Regardless of how much progress the world has made since the fall of the Soviet Union, there is still a significant lack of trust. Much of that is born from history. The Soviet and pre-Soviet history is a violent one. The Romanovs ruled Russia with an iron fist for 304 years, (1613 through the Russian Revolution in 1917). If you add the brutality of the years following the revolution, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, that’s 376 years of autocratic rule. Is it any wonder why Putin, a product of the former Soviet Union is hell bent on protecting against what he perceives to be a serious threat to his country? As a dictator, the only thing he understands is taking what he wants by force and deceit.
We can only hope that the leaders who come after him, who didn’t grow up in the Soviet system, will have a change of heart, so there is no need for NATO. But until that happens, we need to hold the NATO alliance together as there are additional threats from Iran, North Korea and of course China. Putin and Lavrov have made it crystal clear that the existence of NATO has never been more important. And despite his bluster regarding nuclear weapons and threats against Finland, NATO must not back down. We are all too familiar with what happens when bullies trample the fragile. They march on, unencumbered, until there is no choice but to confront them. Do we really want to reach that point?