Who’s to Blame for Russia’s Aggression Towards Ukraine?
Headline Roundup February 23rd, 2022
Politicians and commentators in the U.S. and abroad were quick to point fingers after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into separatist-contested regions of eastern Ukraine.
Who’s to blame for this crisis? Answers varied widely but generally aligned with each accuser’s prior biases. Conservative commentator Candace Owens blamed NATO for expanding eastward, saying, “WE are at fault.” The governments of China and Iran seemed to agree, calling out NATO’s purportedly “provocative actions.” However, former U.N. ambassador Madeleine Albright wrote in The New York Times (Opinion rated Left) that “If Mr. Putin feels backed into a corner, he has only himself to blame.” The New York Times Editorial Board seemed to agree, framing Russia’s claims of NATO aggression as a fabricated pretext for invasion.
Generally, the political right was more likely to place blame on President Joe Biden and NATO; the political left was more likely to blame Putin. The line wasn’t absolute, however; in Slate (Left), author Fred Kaplan partly blamed former President George W. Bush for trying to expand NATO, and The Dispatch (Lean Right) editor Jonah Goldberg called Putin “the primary driver of the Ukraine crisis.”
When a major conflict like Ukraine breaks out, journalists always ask themselves: “Where should I station myself?” Kyiv? Moscow? Munich? Washington? In this case, my answer is none of these. The only place to be for understanding this war is inside Russian President Vladimir Putin’s head. Putin is the most powerful, unchecked Russian leader since Stalin, and the timing of this war is a product of his ambitions, strategies and grievances.
This is a hard column to write. Today Russia hived off part of Ukraine as if it were its garden with apple trees to pick off. Ukraine is an independent country; it is not Chechnya.
As a journalist and foreign policy practitioner, I am used to blaming governments, including my own, for global messes.
But in the case of Ukraine, I find myself realizing that the source of many of the problems besetting this fragile democracy is not only Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. Part of the blame lies with...
Should Russia escalate its infringement on Ukraine's national sovereignty, as Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear the former, and wannabe future, empire plans to do, the president-cum-dictator deserves the overwhelming bulk of the blame. But that doesn't remotely absolve President Joe Biden of blame for enabling Putin's escalation, nor does pointing out that our president failed our Ukrainian ally and aided Russia. Of course, Biden's stateside allies would have us believe the opposite.