The Real Reason Russia Went to War | MSN Opinion

Ambassador William J. Burns was the most distinguished Foreign Service officer of his generation and now serves as director of the CIA. While serving as ambassador to Moscow during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations he advised that “NATO enlargement, particularly the Ukraine, remains an emotional and neuralgic issue for Russia. Strategic policy considerations also underlie a strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. Regarding Ukraine these concerns include fears that the issue could spilt the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.”

In a memo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Burns wrote, “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all red lines for the Russian elite (not just Russian President Vladimir Putin). In more than two-and-a-half years of conversations with key Russian players, from knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics, I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”

Nevertheless, convinced that a greatly weakened Russia could not oppose expanding Western influence, NATO’s political leaders continued to promote Ukrainian entry into the alliance. Under strong American pressure, NATO’s secretary general announced in 2008 that Ukraine would eventually join the alliance. In 2014 NATO actively supported the Maidan Uprising which overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian, elected president Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with a pro-European, pro-NATO government.

MSN Never Forget the Real Reason Russia Went to War | Opinion