There is a near consensus across the U.S. political spectrum that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the chief culprit of the present Ukrainian crisis. American President Joe Biden, a Democrat in U.S. politics– is never weary of fuming at Putin over the ongoing Russian offensives in Ukraine. Last month, after his meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, Poland, President Biden branded Putin “a butcher.” A few days back, Biden accused Putin of committing genocide in Ukraine.
Speaking to “Fox News Sunday” on April 17, U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican Representative from California, said, albeit indirectly, the same when he blamed his own President for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said that if the U.S. government had taken “actions (providing weaponry to the Ukrainians)” on time, Russia “probably never would have invaded”, and that “would have saved thousands of lives.”
One, however, finds blaming Putin alone for the crisis would be unfair. Observers say the United States-led NATO policy has been the root cause for Moscow’s present course of action in Ukraine. As per the understanding reached between Russia and the United States in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Washington was morally bound not to expand the NATO eastward. The U.S. has not cared for this moral obligation.
Washington-led NATO has gone ahead with its eastward expansion plans. At the March 2007 annual Munich security conference, Putin even complained, “Nato has put its frontline forces on our borders.” Its expansion “represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. Against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact?”
But Washington has proceeded with its NATO plans. The Barack Obama administration in Washington even meddled in Ukraine’s internal political affairs in 2013 and 2014 to help demonstrators overthrow Ukraine’s elected pro‐Russia president. It wanted in place in Kyiv, a government that would give the U.S. access to Ukraine’s oil and gas reserves.
The U.S. has been focused on its business interests in Ukraine. Some important U.S. companies are doing business in the country. Their interests are of paramount importance to Washington. Washington is determined to protect them.
According to an estimate, since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February this year, the Biden administration has sent nearly $3 billion to help Ukrainians in their ongoing battle against Russia. It has sent over 1,400 Stinger anti-craft systems, 5,000 Javelin and 7,000 anti-armour systems to Ukraine. In addition, the administration has sent over 50 million rounds of ammunition and laser-guided rocket systems to Ukraine.
Washington always sees its control over energy as a lever for global dominance. Its policy has been to back those indigenous forces who would use their resources in ways favourable to U.S. interests.
(The author is a New Delhi-based journalist)