1. Mearsheimer: There’s no question about that. I think today most Ukrainians would like very much to be part of NATO and to be part of the EU, but the fact is that the Russians won’t tolerate a situation where Ukraine becomes a Western bulwark on its Border. The Russians have made it clear that if Ukraine continues to pursue this policy of trying to align itself with the West, that the end result will be that Russia will go to great lengths to wreck Ukraine as a functioning Society. I believe that that’s exactly what’s happening now.
What I find so amazing is that the West doesn’t understand this. After all, the United States has something called the Monroe Doctrine. According to the Monroe Doctrine, no Great Power from either Europe or Asia is allowed into the Western Hemisphere with its military Forces. We consider it completely unacceptable for any distant Great Power to march up to our Borders. That’s basically what’s going on here. The Russians are saying, There’s no way that NATO and the EU can march up to our Borders, we just won’t accept this. If the West continues to pursue this policy, what we will do is in effect destroy Ukraine. As I said, that’s what they’re doing.
2. Mearsheimer: I think that it’s very important to understand that up until this present Crisis, Tim is correct that there was sentiment in Ukraine not to join NATO, but the point is that NATO itself was continuing to pursue Expansion eastward. After the April 2008 Summit in Bucharest, NATO said explicitly that eventually Ukraine and Georgia would be included in NATO, and the Russians made it clear at the time from top to bottom that this was categorically unacceptable. NATO Expansion was still on the table from the West perspective. Second point I would make is it’s not just NATO Expansion that bothered the Russians greatly. It’s also EU Expansion and our efforts at Democracy-promotion, because what Democracy-promotion is really all about is putting into Power leaders in Ukraine, and maybe even ultimately Russia, who are pro-Western. It was the February 22 Coup d’État in Kiev that actually precipitated the present Crisis. In a very important way, NATO Expansion and EU Expansion were background factors. It was the Coup d’État in Ukraine that really tripped Things off. What’s happened as a Consequence is that the Russians have taken the Crimea, and they have made it clear that unless the West backs off, which it shows no interest in doing, what is going to happen is that Russia will wreck Ukraine.
3. Mearsheimer: I think that what’s going on here is that the Ukrainians believe and People in the West believe in self-determination. Self-determination is at the heart of Nationalism for sure, and it’s also at the heart of Democracy. The argument in the West and again in Ukraine is that the if the Ukrainian People what to side with the West, given that they’re a sovereign state, they have a Right to do this. I believe this is a foolish way to think about international Politics. States that live next to Great Powers don’t have the Right to pursue any Foreign Policy they want. Cuba did not have a Right in the Cold War, at least from the Americans’ point of view, to form a military Alliance with the Soviet Union, and invite the Soviet Union to put missiles and naval and ground forces in Cuba. We were enraged that they did that. Taiwan today does not have the Right to declare its Independence. China would not tolerate that, and the United States goes along with China on this point. The fact is Ukraine is going to end up destroying itself, if it continues to act as if it has the Right to join Forces with the West. What the West is in effect doing is leading the Ukrainians down the primrose path by encouraging them to pursue this foolish policy when the West has no interest whatsoever in coming in to back up the Ukrainians as they get into more and more trouble.
that the Crisis started in the Summer of 2013, and that’s when Russian Foreign
Policy began to change. I don’t believe that’s the case. Russian Foreign Policy
changed drastically after the February 22 Coup d’État where, with the help from the West,
the Government in Kiev, which was pro-Russian, was overthrown. You want to remember
that the Russians took Crimea in March 2014, not in the summer of 2014. The
trouble in Ukraine started in March 2014, not in the summer of 2014. This was
all done in response to the fact that NATO and the European Union were
encroaching on Russia’s Border. The Russians had long made it clear that that
was categorically unacceptable.
5. Mearsheimer: I think there’s no question that there will be serious escalation if what you describe happens. If we up the ante, especially if we start to arm the Ukrainians, the Russians will respond by moving more Troops and more Equipment into Eastern Ukraine. The fighting will become bloodier, and Ukraine will be destroyed even faster than it’s even now being destroyed. I would note that if we’re at all successful in thwarting the Russians, we’re going to make them more desperate. What you’re doing here is you’re taking a Great Power that has thousands of nuclear weapons, and you’re scaring the living bejeesus out of it. This is asking for trouble especially when it makes absolutely no strategic sense to do this.