By Ben Armbruster
A senior Biden administration official just lately admitted that previous to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, america made no effort to handle certainly one of Vladimir Putin’s most frequently said prime safety considerations — the potential for Ukraine’s membership into NATO.
When requested on a podcast revealed on Wednesday by Warfare on the Rocks — a U.S. international and protection coverage evaluation web site — whether or not NATO growth into Ukraine “was not on the desk when it comes to negotiations” earlier than the invasion, Derek Chollet, counselor to Secretary of State Antony Blinken replied that “it wasn’t.”
“We made clear to the Russians that we have been prepared to speak to them on points that we thought have been real considerations they’ve that have been official ultimately, I imply arms management kind issues of that nature,” Chollet stated, including that the administration didn’t suppose that “the way forward for Ukraine” was a kind of points and that its potential NATO membership was a “non-issue.”
“This was not about NATO,” stated Chollet, who contradicted himself moments later, saying, “In perpetrating this completely unjustified and unprovoked struggle, [Putin’s] aim was to attempt to divide the U.S. from Europe and weaken NATO.”
In fact Putin himself said publicly many instances earlier than the invasion that certainly, Ukraine’s potential NATO membership was a key safety concern for Russia.
Weeks earlier than Russia launched its struggle towards Ukraine, Putin claimed that Russia’s considerations about NATO enlargement have been being ignored. “We have to resolve this query now … [and] we hope very a lot our concern will probably be heard by our companions and brought severely,” he later stated.
Warfare on the Rocks’ Ryan Evans advised Chollet that he takes Putin’s claims about NATO “severely,” including, “I’m just a little struck by the refusal to even speak concerning the situation of NATO growth.”
“We talked about NATO in saying that NATO is a defensive alliance. NATO isn’t a menace to Russia,” Chollet stated.
Earlier than the Russian invasion, Quincy Institute senior analysis fellow on Russia and Europe Anatol Lieven wrote that as a part of a broader package deal to stave off struggle, america ought to suggest “the declaration of a moratorium on Ukrainian membership of NATO for a interval of 20 years, permitting time for negotiations on a brand new safety structure for Europe as an entire, together with Russia.”