A widespread misconception of NATO’s relation to Ukraine has been sustained by silence in news sources and falsehoods by pundits. According to this myth, the NATO-Ukraine connection, prior to Russia’s current horrific invasion, was a matter of Ukraine’s asking to join and NATO’s not saying “No.” In fact, over the last fourteen years, NATO’s conduct has gone far beyond openness to eventual admission, in engagements that have included extensive and expanding joint military operations in Ukraine. This involvement, which was accompanied by US efforts to shape Ukrainian politics, does not in the least affect Putin’s moral responsibility for the carnage he is inflicting. But awareness of this history should affect vitally important assessments of the proper response.
Richard W. Miller is a faculty affiliate of CSES and the Hutchinson Professor in Ethics and Public Life Emeritus at Cornell University.