NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 5 (RIA Novosti) – NATO leaders meeting in Wales this week have long planned to make Ukraine a Western-backed bastion on Russia’s doorstep, analyst John Mearsheimer told journalists on Thursday.
“NATO expansion is part of broader strategy on the part of the West, which is designed to peel Ukraine away from Russia’s orbit, and designed to make Ukraine a Western bastion right on Russia’s doorstep. It is one of three elements to Western strategy. Another is EU expansion and the third is promotion of democracy,” said Mearsheimer, a Chicago University political scientist.
“The Russians said form the very beginning that NATO expansion is unacceptable, although they could not stop the first two tranches and, in 2008, it became clear that NATO had its eyes on Ukraine and Georgia. The Russians made it clear that this was unacceptable, and the West refused to hear what the Russians had to say,” Mearsheimer added.
NATO leaders gathered in Wales on Thursday for two days of talks mainly focused on situation in Ukraine.
As the Ukrainian crisis escalated, relations between Russia and NATO deteriorated. Heads of the alliance kept accusing Russia of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs, sending troops to Ukraine, and went as far as to claim that Moscow planned to invade Ukraine. However, none of these statements were supported with any evidence.
Following Crimea’s reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has been boosting its military presence close to Russia’s border. In particular, dispatching a number of warships to the Black Sea and reinforcing air patrolling missions in Baltic airspace.
In April, Washington sent four airborne units to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to support its NATO allies amid the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over the increasing NATO military presence in neighboring states.