“I think the one place where the greatest consternation will be caused in the short term, would be to admit Baltic states in terms of NATO/US/ Russian relations. And if there was anything that was going to tip the balance in terms of a vigorous and hostile reaction in Russia, it would be that,” then-Senator Joe Biden said at an Atlantic Council conference broadcast on C-SPAN on June 20, 1997.
This rare bit of clarity was likely in response to President Bill Clinton calling for former Warsaw Pact countries and post-Soviet republics to join NATO, and the fact that he made NATO enlargement a crucial part of his foreign-policy.
Over the next two decades, no one heeded Biden's warning, or perhaps, they didn't care. In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO amid growing Russian opposition. By 2004, another seven Central and Eastern European countries, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, joined NATO.
Albania and Croatia joined in April 2009, while Montenegro and North Macedonia joined in 2017 and 2020, respectively. Below is a map showing NATO's expansion from 1990 to 2019. Notice how the Russians watched from the East as their entire western border slowly became surrounded by countries who were joining an organization sworn to defend the world from the Soviet Union which no longer existed.
The conflict in Ukraine is nothing new and as illustrated by Biden himself in the video above, the US and the rest of the West knew that enlarging the size of NATO — which was arguably no longer needed given the dissolution of the Soviet Union — would directly provoke opposition from Russia.
What's more, the US promised Russia it would do the exact opposite.
“We understand that not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees,” then-US Secretary of State James Baker told Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990. “If the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”
Following that promise, the United States and NATO proceeded to do the exact opposite.
Despite clearly being lied to for years, the Russian government has asked for two very simple concessions: that Ukraine never join NATO and that advanced conventional weapons never be deployed in Ukraine. The US has rejected both of these proposals and instead has been sending massive weapons systems to Ukraine like anti-armor and ground-to-air missiles.
Recommended for You
All the while, political actors continued to push for Ukraine to join NATO while the Obama administration staged a coup to oust Ukraine’s democratically elected neutralist government to install a rabidly anti-Russian regime.
When you understand the history of this encroachment on Russia's border by NATO and the US, the current invasion of Ukraine becomes far more complex than the media is spinning it with their "Russia bad. Ukraine good" narrative.
Given the United States' history in the region and their provocation through NATO expansion, it would be smart of them to prepare the war they would eventually and inevitably provoke. And they did exactly that.
In an article this week, the CIA openly stated that they have been overseeing a secret intensive training program for elite Ukrainian special operations forces and other intelligence personnel to specifically counter Russian forces.
This information was reportedly given to Yahoo News by five former intelligence and national security officials familiar with the initiative. Since 2015, the CIA has been preparing Ukraine for the war they knew they were provoking.
As the article points out, a “select group of veteran CIA paramilitaries” were sent into the Donbas region of Ukraine to train troops in 2015.
According to Zach Dorfman, a National Security Correspondent for the outlet, "the CIA paramilitaries taught their Ukrainian counterparts sniper techniques; how to operate U.S.-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles and other equipment; how to evade digital tracking the Russians used to pinpoint the location of Ukrainian troops, which had left them vulnerable to attacks by artillery; how to use covert communications tools; and how to remain undetected in the war zone while also drawing out Russian and insurgent forces from their positions, among other skills.”
In line with their history of provocations in the region, the CIA reportedly knew that training Ukrainians for war with Russia could provoke them.
“Everything we did in Ukraine had a chance to be misinterpreted, and escalate the tensions,” an official stated.
Now for the obvious question. How would the US feel if for the last 30 years — after being promised that the exact opposite would happen — Russia was gobbling up territories in Canada and Mexico along our border? How would the US feel if Russia then began installing complex weapons systems in those territories that could take out Washington D.C. in under 10 minutes? How would the US feel if Russian black ops were in these territories training their armies how to take out our military?
The US waged a murderous war in Iraq, on the other side of the planet, in which tens of thousands of innocent people were slaughtered and millions more displaced — all based on a lie they made up about weapons of mass destruction. What do you think the reaction would be if we were surrounded by a hostile military who was training to take us out on our own borders?
So yes, what Putin is doing in Ukraine is violent, murderous, and wrong but people who live in glass houses, shouldn't throw anti-tank missiles.