'West foolishly made Ukraine give up nuclear weapons, led it poke Russia with NATO expansion': Top political scientist

American political scientist John Mearsheimer said the West is playing with the fire, referring to Russia, and said that Ukraine is being led down to a path of destruction

FP Staff April 14, 2022 13:46:40 IST

Russia began 'full scale' invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, 2022. In a few days, the Russia Ukraine war will be entering its fiftieth days, several lives have been lost, there has been mass exodus and lot of assets have been destroyed. Who is to be blamed for this is what people want to know. Answering this pertinent question, American political scientist John Mearsheimer says the West is responsible for the wreckage,

In an exclusive interview to CNN-News18, Mearsheimer said what's happening in Ukraine is a "catastrophe". He said, "The West foolishly made Ukraine give up its nuclear weapons, then it foolishly led Ukraine to poke the Russian in the eye with NATO expansion causing this crisis. Once the crisis broke out, the West put Ukraine to double down and the west itself doubled down, and the end result is Ukraine is getting erect."

Mearsheimer said the West is playing with the fire, referring to Russia, and said that Ukraine is being led down to a path of destruction.

He further said that since the beginning, he has been arguing that Ukraine should keep its nuclear weapons because there was always a possibility that Russians would come knocking and those nuclear weapons would be an "excellent deterrent.”

"If the Russian military begins to fall apart, I think (Ukraine) it’s going to be in a very dangerous situation. And at the same time if the Russian economy is really beginning to hurt and if it’s in the verge of collapsing, the Russians will think very seriously about trying to rescue the situation with nuclear weapons.”

US President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, announced an $800 million military aid package for Ukraine as international prosecutors declared the war-torn Western ally a "crime scene" amid fears of a massive revamped Russian assault. Biden also accused Putin of causing a "genocide".

US anticipates new Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, approves $800 million package of military assistance for Kyiv

Why Putin began invasion of Ukraine?

Mearsheimer said, "Putin did what he has done (invasion of Ukraine). My view all along has been, this crisis, which now is in actual war is all about the west efforts to make Ukraine the western bullwork on Russia's borders."

He further said the Russia and Ukraine conflict dates back to April 2008 when at the NATO summit, NATO announced that Ukraine and Georgia would become members of NATO at some point. "The Russians and Putin in particular made it unequivocally clear that time that this was crossing a red line, this was unacceptable, this represented an existential threat to Russia."

Mearsheimer went on to add that the crisis broke out on 22 February 2014 and the West responded by doubling down and when US President Joe Biden moved into the White House in January of 2021, he went further than what the top administration did in backing Ukraine. "The end result was on 24 February 2022, when Putin invaded Ukraine," he added.

The American political scientist said many people say that Putin invaded Ukraine because he wants to conquer the country and integrate into greater Russia, but there is no evidence to support that. This is all about NATO expansion and more generally the west efforts to make Ukraine a bullwork on Russia's borders.

Where does the Russia-Ukraine war stand?

"This war has not played itself out yet. There is no question that Putin was pursuing 'limited aim strategy' he wanted to conquer some territory in Ukraine mainly in the east. He was interested either in regime change or getting existing regime to change its policy with regard to joining NATO or joining the West." Mearsheimer said.

He added that, "There is no question that the Russian military forces have run into a bustle with the Ukrainians it is because NATO and specially US has been supporting Ukraine all along and trying to turn Ukraine into a de facto member of NATO that’s why Ukraine has performed so well on the battle field. Russians have their hands full but they are doubling down now and where this all leads are very hard to say."

Will Putin's new war chief help Russia win the war?

"Russian army has not performed well and it’s hard to believe that it will change overnight just because they have put a new general in-charge," Mearsheimer said.

Vladimir Putin appoints new war chief for Ukraine: Who is he and can he change Russia’s fortunes in the conflict?

"We are in a situation where Russians feel that they can't lose and the Americans and the European allies fell that they can’t lose. It would be a humiliating defeat for the US and especially for Joe Biden if we were to lose this war and Russia to win a great victory so we will go to great lanes to keep Ukraine fighting," he added.

Will Russia Ukraine war continue for a longer time?

"This war could go on for many years. It may go on a lower level but there is a possibility that it may continue do years and if this be then it a prescription for disaster," Mearsheimer said.

He further said, Putin is not going to quit and neither the Americans would give up and "I think Ukrainians do not have any agency by themselves to stop this war and I don't see how this war come to an end anytime soon."

He said that the solution to this whole problem has been there from the beginning. "The problem that we now face is hard to implement but the solution is that Ukraine abandons any interest in becoming a part of NATO and becoming a western bullwork on Russia's border," the American political scientist said.

"The solution for Ukraine is to become a neutral country and to work out some sort of modus operandi with Russia. The fact is that Russia is very powerful state and is much more powerful than Ukraine. It can do enormous damage to Ukraine as we are witnessing and Ukrainians does not really have much choice to accommodate the Russians to a large extent. Poking a stick to Russian eye is a prescription to disaster," Mearsheimer said.

What if China and Russia come together?

Mearsheimer said that for the United States there is one serious threat in the world today that is China. "It is not Russia. China is a peer competitor; it threatens to be regional hegemon in Asia. The US should be focusing laser-like on China it should be working overtime to think about how to contain China and at the same time it should be working with Russia as an ally to help contain China."

The American political scientist said that India, Russia, and the US should all be on the same side and contain china because China has china potential to be a remarkably powerful country.

"Instead what the US has foolishly done is it has picked a fight with Russia it is bogged down in the eastern Europe it has done remarkably little in Asia especially in East Asia to explain to it allies how it plans to contain China because it is too busy thinking about how to fight the Russians. It clearly shows that there is one winner in this war between Russia and Ukraine, it is China," said Mearsheimer.

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