Prior to his invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced that the dispute between Moscow and Washington on “NATO’s expansion to the East” needs to be resolved. Claiming that Europe’s hands are tied by the U.S., Putin defends that Russia is addressing the U.S. Meanwhile, the U.S. did not explicitly say that Ukraine would not be a NATO member.
There is a prevailing narrative that the ongoing war between American foreign policy elites and the armament of Ukraine to weaken Russia as much as possible may lead to the end of the Putin regime. Those who are skeptical about these dominant narratives are excluded. Television channels mostly feature experts and strategists affiliated with major weapons companies, and former top-level security, intelligence, and defense bureaucrats. Skeptics, on the other hand, are kept away from the screens.
Prof. John Mearsheimer was attacked by “Neocon” writers years ago for criticizing NATO’s expansion into the East. Retired Ambassador Chas Freeman, who served for three decades in U.S. departments of state and defense, is also among those ostracized. Freeman, who undertook office in many foreign policy-related non-governmental organizations, is being ignored by mainstream media for his dissenting views.
Prof. Michael J. Brenner, known for his foreign policy studies, including “transatlantic relations,” is in the same boat. Prof. Benner says he is appalled by the treatment he faced for his skeptical views, and that he was hurt most deeply by the fact that these offensive attacks came from his close acquaintances. Drawing attention to how the group in question is shifting toward intellectual and political nihilism, Prof. Brenner said in an interview, “I felt like I wasn’t a part of this world for the first time.” Prof. Benner stated that he believes there is convincing evidence that some members of U.S. President Joe Biden’s foreign policy team decided to create a Donbas-focused crisis to provoke Russian military reaction, and use this as a reason to consolidate the West.
World-renowned economist Prof. Jeffrey Sachs is another figure opposing the prevalent public narrative in the U.S. about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Sachs served as special advisor to UN secretaries-general between 2001 and 2018. Sachs also served as financial advisor to the Soviet Union’s last state President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Sachs says he left his position as his recommendations were not accepted by the U.S. administration of the time. It should be recalled that the economists whose suggestions were heeded drove Russia to bankruptcy. According to Prof. Sachs, U.S. policies that marginalize Russia are the root of the problems today.
The outline of the views Prof. Sachs portrays in his articles and interviews are as follows: The U.S. and its allies must stop NATO’s expansion into the East to institute peace in Europe. However, the U.S. is not very keen on this idea. By defending Ukraine’s right to join NATO, the U.S., in fact, left Ukraine vulnerable to Russia’s invasion. As two expansionist powers, the U.S. and Russia are carrying on a “proxy war” in Ukraine. Making peace is much better than destroying Ukraine for the sake of defeating Putin. The U.S. showed no sign of reconciliation since the war started. The U.S. is more resistant to making peace than Russia. True success, on the other hand, is Russian troops returning home, and ensuring Ukraine’s safety and security. It is possible to achieve these outcomes on the negotiation table. This needs to be given a chance.
According to Prof. Sachs, the “European Union” must be more aggressive to push the parties to strike a peace deal: Europe’s security should not be built on NATO’s expansion but rather on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) ground, of which Russia is also a member. Russia should have a say in Europe’s security to the extent it involves Russia’s security. Yet, the sanctions are not likely to stop the war. Bringing Russia to its knees, a nuclear power, is not realistic. The key step for the U.S., NATO allies, and Ukraine is their guarantee that NATO will not expand into Ukraine if Russia withdraws. Thus, the countries that are in alliance with Russia, as well as the neutral countries, will also call on Putin to “go back home.”