The War in Ukraine Was Provoked

The War in Ukraine Was Provoked. The Biden administration’s insistence on NATO enlargement has made Ukraine a victim of misconceived and unachievable U.S. military aspirations, writes Jeffrey D. Sachs. 烏克蘭戰爭被挑起. 薩克斯寫道,拜登政府堅持北約擴大使烏克蘭成為美國軍事抱負的錯誤設想和無法實現的犧牲品。

George Orwell wrote in 1984 that “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

Governments work relentlessly to distort public perceptions of the past. Regarding the Ukraine War, the Biden administration has repeatedly and falsely claimed that the Ukraine War started with an unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

In fact, the war was provoked by the U.S. in ways that leading U.S. diplomats anticipated for decades in the lead-up to the war, meaning that the war could have been avoided and should now be stopped through negotiations.

Recognizing that the war was provoked helps us to understand how to stop it. It doesn’t justify Russia’s invasion. A far better approach for Russia might have been to step up diplomacy with Europe and with the non-Western world to explain and oppose U.S. militarism and unilateralism.

In fact, the relentless U.S. push to expand NATO is widely opposed throughout the world, so Russian diplomacy rather than war would likely have been effective.

Two Main Provocations

The Biden team uses the word “unprovoked” incessantly, most recently in Biden’s major speech on the first-year anniversary of the war, in a recent NATO statement, and in the most recent G7 statement.

Mainstream media friendly to Biden simply parrot the White House. The New York Times is the lead culprit, describing the invasion as “unprovoked” no fewer than 26 times, in five editorials, 14 opinion columns by NYT writers, and seven guest op-eds.

[Related: Caitlin Johnstone: Unprovoked!]

There were in fact two main U.S. provocations.

The first was the U.S. intention to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia in order to surround Russia in the Black Sea region by NATO countries (Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria Turkey, and Georgia, in counterclockwise order).

The second was the U.S. role in installing a Russophobic regime in Ukraine by the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014. The shooting war in Ukraine began with Yanukovych’s overthrow nine years ago, not in February 2022 as the U.S. government, NATO, and the G7 leaders would have us believe.

Biden and his foreign policy team refuse to discuss these roots of the war. To recognize them would undermine the administration in three ways.

First, it would expose how the war could have been avoided, or stopped early, sparing Ukraine its current devastation and the U.S. more than $100 billion in outlays to date.

Second, it would expose Biden’s personal role in the war as a participant in the overthrow of Yanukovych, and before that as a staunch backer of the military-industrial complex and very early advocate of NATO enlargement.

Third, it would push Biden to the negotiating table, undermining the administration’s continued push for NATO expansion.

Check the Archives

George Kennan in 1966. (Warren Leffler, Library of Congress)
The archives show irrefutably that the U.S. and German governments repeatedly promised to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not move “one inch eastward” when the Soviet Union disbanded the Warsaw Pact military alliance.

Nonetheless, U.S. planning for NATO expansion began early in the 1990s, well before Vladimir Putin was Russia’s president. In 1997, national security expert Zbigniew Brzezinski spelled out the NATO expansion timeline with remarkable precision.

U.S. diplomats and Ukraine’s own leaders knew well that NATO enlargement could lead to war. The U.S. scholar-statesman George Kennan called NATO enlargement a “fateful error,” writing in The New York Times that,

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”

President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Perry considered resigning in protest against NATO enlargement. In reminiscing about this crucial moment in the mid-1990s, Perry said the following in 2016:

“Our first action that really set us off in a bad direction was when NATO started to expand, bringing in eastern European nations, some of them bordering Russia. At that time, we were working closely with Russia and they were beginning to get used to the idea that NATO could be a friend rather than an enemy … but they were very uncomfortable about having NATO right up on their border and they made a strong appeal for us not to go ahead with that.”

In 1998, William Burns, then the U.S. ambassador to Russia and now the C.I.A. director, sent a cable to Washington warning at length of grave risks of NATO enlargement:

“Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region. Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests. Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”

Ukraine’s leaders knew clearly that pressing for NATO enlargement to Ukraine would mean war. Former Zelensky adviser Oleksiy Arestovych declared in a 2019 interview “that our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.”

During 2010-2013, Yanukovych pushed neutrality, in line with Ukrainian public opinion. The U.S. worked covertly to overthrow Yanukovych, as captured vividly in the tape of then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt planning the post-Yanukovych government weeks before the violent overthrow of Yanukovych.

Nuland makes clear on the call that she was coordinating closely with then Vice President Biden and his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, the same Biden-Nuland-Sullivan team now at the center of U.S. policy vis-à-vis Ukraine.

After Yanukovych’s overthrow, the war broke out in the Donbass, while Russia claimed Crimea. The new Ukrainian government appealed for NATO membership, and the U.S. armed and helped restructure the Ukrainian army to make it interoperable with NATO. In 2021, NATO and the Biden administration strongly recommitted to Ukraine’s future in NATO.

In the immediate lead-up to Russia’s invasion, NATO enlargement was center stage. Putin’s draft NATO-Russia Treaty (Dec. 17, 2021) called for a halt to NATO enlargement.

Russia’s leaders put NATO enlargement as the cause of war in Russia’s National Security Council meeting on Feb. 21, 2022. In his address to the nation that day, Putin declared NATO enlargement to be a central reason for the invasion.

Historian Geoffrey Roberts recently wrote:

“Could war have been prevented by a Russian-Western deal that halted NATO expansion and neutralised Ukraine in return for solid guarantees of Ukrainian independence and sovereignty? Quite possibly.”

In March 2022, Russia and Ukraine reported progress towards a quick negotiated end to the war based on Ukraine’s neutrality. According to Naftali Bennett, former prime minister of Israel, who was a mediator, an agreement was close to being reached before the U.S., U.K. and France blocked it.

While the Biden administration declares Russia’s invasion to be unprovoked, Russia pursued diplomatic options in 2021 to avoid war, while Biden rejected diplomacy, insisting that Russia had no say whatsoever on the question of NATO enlargement. And Russia pushed diplomacy in March 2022, while the Biden team again blocked a diplomatic end to the war.

By recognizing that the question of NATO enlargement is at the center of this war, we understand why U.S. weaponry will not end this war. Russia will escalate as necessary to prevent NATO enlargement to Ukraine. The key to peace in Ukraine is through negotiations based on Ukraine’s neutrality and NATO non-enlargement.

The Biden administration’s insistence on NATO enlargement to Ukraine has made Ukraine a victim of misconceived and unachievable U.S. military aspirations. It’s time for the provocations to stop, and for negotiations to restore peace to Ukraine.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the U.N. Broadband Commission for Development. He has been adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, and currently serves as an SDG Advocate under Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Sachs is the author, most recently, of A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020). Other books include: Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable (2017) and The Age of Sustainable Development, (2015) with Ban Ki-moon.

喬治·奧威爾在 1984 年 寫道:“誰控制了過去,誰就控制了未來;誰控制了現在,誰就控制了過去。”






拜登團隊不斷使用“無端”一詞,最近一次是在拜登 在戰爭一周年的 重要講話中,在最近的北約聲明中,以及最近的 七國集團聲明中。

對拜登友好的主流媒體簡直是在白宮鸚鵡學舌。《 紐約時報》 是罪魁禍首,在 5 篇社論、14 篇紐約時報作家的觀點專欄和 7 篇客座專欄文章中,將入侵描述為“無端”的次數不少於 26 次。

[相關: 凱特琳約翰斯通:無端!]



第二個是美國在 2014 年 2 月暴力推翻烏克蘭親俄總統維克托·亞努科維奇 (Viktor Yanukovych) 後在烏克蘭建立了一個反俄政權。烏克蘭的槍戰始於九年前亞努科維奇被推翻,而不是在 2022 年 2 月,因為美國政府、北約和 G7 領導人會讓我們相信。


首先,它將揭露戰爭本可以如何避免或提前停止,從而使烏克蘭免於目前的破壞,並使美國免於迄今超過 1000 億美元的支出。




1966 年的喬治·凱南。(沃倫·萊弗勒,國會圖書館)檔案 無可辯駁地表明,在蘇聯解散華約軍事同盟時,美國和德國政府多次向蘇聯總統米哈伊爾·戈爾巴喬夫承諾,北約不會“東移一英寸” 。

儘管如此,美國的北約擴張計劃早在 1990 年代就開始了,遠早於弗拉基米爾·普京 (Vladimir Putin) 成為俄羅斯總統。1997 年,國家安全專家茲比格涅夫·布熱津斯基 (Zbigniew Brzezinski) 非常精確地闡明了 北約擴張的時間表。

美國外交官和烏克蘭本國領導人深知北約東擴可能導致戰爭。美國學者兼政治家喬治·凱南稱北約東擴是一個“致命錯誤”,他在 《紐約時報》上寫道 ,


比爾克林頓總統的國防部長威廉佩里考慮辭職以抗議北約東擴。在回憶 2016 年 90 年代中期的這個關鍵時刻時,佩里 在 2016 年說道:


1998 年,時任美國駐俄羅斯大使、現任中央情報局局長的威廉·伯恩斯 (William Burns)向華盛頓發送了一封電報, 詳細警告北約東擴的嚴重風險:


烏克蘭領導人清楚地知道,向烏克蘭施壓北約東擴將意味著戰爭。澤倫斯基前顧問奧列克西·阿雷斯托維奇在2019 年的一次採訪中宣稱, “我們加入北約的代價是與俄羅斯開一場大戰。”

在 2010-2013 年期間,亞努科維奇推動中立,以符合烏克蘭輿論。美國暗中推翻亞努科維奇,正如 時任美國助理國務卿 維多利亞紐蘭 和美國大使杰弗裡派亞特在暴力推翻亞努科維奇前幾周策劃後亞努科維奇政府的錄音帶中所生動地記錄的那樣。


亞努科維奇被推翻後,頓巴斯爆發戰爭,俄羅斯宣稱擁有克里米亞。烏克蘭新政府呼籲加入北約,美國武裝並幫助重組烏克蘭軍隊,使其能夠與北約協同作戰。2021 年, 北約 和 拜登政府 再次強烈承諾烏克蘭在北約的未來。

在俄羅斯入侵的直接導火線中,北約東擴成為焦點。普京的 北約-俄羅斯條約草案 (2021 年 12 月 17 日)呼籲停止北約東擴。

俄羅斯領導人在 2022 年 2 月 21 日的俄羅斯國家安全委員會會議上將北約擴大列為戰爭原因 。普京當天在 向全國發表講話時 宣布,北約擴大是入侵的主要原因。

歷史學家杰弗里羅伯茨 最近寫道:


2022 年 3 月,俄羅斯和烏克蘭報告稱,在烏克蘭保持中立的基礎上通過談判迅速結束戰爭方面取得了進展。 據擔任調解人的以色列前總理納夫塔利·貝內特稱,在美國、英國和法國阻止之前,協議已接近達成。

雖然拜登政府宣布俄羅斯的入侵是無端的,但俄羅斯在 2021 年尋求外交選擇以避免戰爭,而拜登拒絕外交,堅稱俄羅斯在北約東擴問題上沒有任何發言權。俄羅斯在2022年3月推動外交,而拜登團隊再次阻止外交結束戰爭。



杰弗裡·D·薩克斯 (Jeffrey D. Sachs) 是哥倫比亞大學的大學教授和可持續發展中心主任,他於 2002 年至 2016 年在該中心領導 地球研究所 。他還是聯合國可持續發展解決方案網絡的主席和聯合國寬帶委員會的委員發展。他曾擔任三位聯合國秘書長的顧問,目前擔任聯合國秘書長安東尼奧·古特雷斯手下的可持續發展目標倡導者。薩克斯最近著有新外交政策:超越美國例外主義(2020)。其他書籍包括:建設新美國經濟:智能、公平和可持續(2017 年)和 可持續發展時代, (2015) 與潘基文。

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