Writing for the traditionally neocon-friendly Claremont Institute, Christopher Caldwell (Summer, 2022) describes the unintended consequences of the Ukraine war—consequences that are indeed playing out now.
Caldwell starts out with Prof. John Mearsheimer’s view on the causes of the war:
 was a hinge year. Ukrainian diplomats had been negotiating an “association agreement” with the European Union that would have created closer trade relations. Russia outbid the E.U. with its own deal, which included $15 billion in incentives for Ukraine. President Viktor Yanukovych signed it. Protests, backed by the United States, broke out in Kiev’s main square, the Maidan, and in cities across the country. By then the U.S. had spent $5 billion to influence Ukraine’s politics, according to a 2013 speech by State Department official Victoria Nuland. Russia now viewed this activity as having funded subversion and revolt. Like every Ukrainian government since the end of the Cold War, Yanukovych’s government was corrupt. Unlike many of them it was legitimately elected. When shootings near the Maidan in Kiev left dozens of protesters dead, Yanukovych fled the country, and the United States played a central role in setting up a successor government.
Meddling with vital Russian interests at Russia’s doorstep turned out to be more dangerous than orating about democracy. Rather than see the Russophone and pro-Russian region of Crimea transformed from a Russian naval stronghold into an American one, Russia invaded it. “Took over” might be a better verb, because there was no loss of life due to the military operation. Whether the Russian takeover was a reaction to American crowding or an unprovoked invasion, one thing was clear: In Russia’s view, Ukraine’s potential delivery of Crimea to NATO was a more serious threat to its survival in 2014 than—to take an example—Islamic terrorism had been to America’s in 2001 or 2003. Understanding that Russia would respond accordingly to any attempt to wrest it back, Russia’s European and Black Sea neighbors tended thenceforth to treat Crimea as a de facto part of Russia. So, for the most part, did the United States. The Minsk accords, signed by Russia and Ukraine, were meant to guarantee a measure of linguistic and political autonomy in the culturally Russian Donbass. (Russia claims the violation of these accords as a casus belli.)
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