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The Russia – Ukraine War at Six Months: The War That Should Have Never Been

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Blasting a 155mm Howitzer round during a gun calibration exercise at Destiny Range, Soldiers from 1-9 Field Artillery make the earth tremble as they fire over 30 rounds from an M109A6 Paladin, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Mosul, Iraq, April 23.

Could the Ukraine War Have Been Avoided? Military expert Daniel L. Davis, a retired U.S. Army Officer with combat experience, kicks off a multi-part series looking at the Ukraine war: 

As we mark the six-month mark of the Russo-Ukrainian War tomorrow, it’s time to finally ask the hard question that few in Washington want answered: did hubris in Kyiv, Washington, and Brussels doom the Ukrainian people to a war that could and should have been avoided?

We must get an accurate, truthful answer to this question because if the answer is ‘yes’, war could have been avoided, then tens of thousands of Ukrainian people have been killed, millions driven from their country, and hundreds of their cities demolished for little more than to satisfy the arrogance of a handful of men – and still with no genuine chance for Kyiv to win.

A sober analysis of available evidence leads to the distressing conclusion that, indeed this war could and should have been prevented. Thousands of lives could and should have been saved. The utter destruction of the Ukrainian economy could have been prevented. The serious consequences to American and European economies that have resulted – and the worst is almost certain to come this fall and winter – were unnecessary.

Exposing the truth is more than merely an academic exercise. The longer this war grinds on, the longer Western leaders and media perpetuate the myth that Ukraine can win the war, that all the Western sacrifices are necessary and worth it, and that our suffering should continue “as long as it takes”, yet more people will unnecessarily die, tens of millions of Americans and Europeans will see their quality of life continue to erode, and the greater the risk that the war escalates – whether by error or miscalculation – and spills beyond Ukraine’s borders.

It is therefore vital to American national interests and our future security to honestly and accurately determine whether or not the war in Ukraine was avoidable. The overwhelming majority of government officials and so-called expert military and foreign policy pundits claim the war was foisted on the West by a power-hungry Putin and that war was unavoidable. As this analysis will show, however, with even a modest willingness on the part of Ukrainian and Western leaders to use diplomacy, war almost certainly could have been averted.

This analysis will be the first of a multi-part series that paints, in often painfully clear detail, how Ukrainian and Western leaders missed ample opportunities to avoid war, and after it started, continued to refuse actions that could have limited the damage by ending it earlier.

This first installment looks at the years (and then final months) that preceded the February 24th invasion and highlights opportunities the West had at its disposal which could have allowed it to avert war altogether. The second assessment will examine the opportunities the West and Ukraine had to limit the damage – and limit Russia’s gains – throughout the first six months of the conflict. Lastly, we will look at the likely course of the next six months and examine the growing dangers to the West and Ukraine if a negotiated settlement isn’t found.

Before going any further, however, it bears pointing out up front: Vladimir Putin started this war, and he alone is responsible for its initiation. No one forced him to take action and there were a near-inexhaustible number of options short of war he could have employed to safeguard what he considers Russia’s core interests. Yet as this analysis will reveal, the West in general, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in particular, allowed arrogance to drive their actions, rejecting many potential off-ramps that could have avoided war.

To fully understand how Ukraine and the West could have could have averted hostilities, it is first necessary to understand just how much Russia feared NATO expansion, especially as it applied to Ukraine. The road to this war was more than 15 years in the making. Russia issued its first veiled threat to the West in February 2007. Putin had been invited to speak at the Munich Security Conference, an annual international security forum that hosts heads of state and senior defense officials from scores of nations. In his speech, Putin made many of the Western delegates uncomfortable as he recited a long list of Russian complaints about the West – but when it came to NATO expansion, the tone sharpened.

Putin said that advancing NATO eastward was a red line and represented a “serious provocation” to Russia and rhetorically asked, “against whom is this expansion intended?” In his speech, Putin quoted former NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner from a 1990 speech in which the NATO leader said, “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee (for context of Woerner’s quote, see full speech here),” with Putin adding, “Where are these guarantees (now)?”  .

After NATO promised eventual membership for Georgia and Ukraine during its 2008 Bucharest Summit, Putin immediately warned that any attempt to expand NATO to Russia’s border would be considered a “direct threat.” In March 2014, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea into Russian territory, Putin said his actions had been driven by “declarations from Kiev about Ukraine soon joining NATO.” The ramifications to Russia of Ukrainian entry into NATO, he warned, “would create not an illusory but a perfectly real threat to the whole of southern Russia.”

In December 2021, Putin gave one last, unmistakable signal to the West of how far he was willing to go to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. “What the U.S. is doing in Ukraine is at our doorstep,” Putin explained, adding that the West “should understand that we have nowhere further to retreat to. Do they think we’ll just watch idly (if Ukraine is allowed into NATO)?”

In the context of having over 175,000 troops poised just beyond Ukraine’s borders on the eve of the invasion, Putin made very clear he was ready to take action if the West continued pursuing NATO membership for Ukraine: “If the aggressive line of our Western colleagues continues,” the diminutive Russian leader said, “we will take adequate military-technical response measures and react harshly to unfriendly steps.”

Given so many years of increasingly strident warnings, no one in the West can claim they were taken by surprise when Putin acted. Yet it is also true that just as Putin will act on what he considers the best interests of Russia, so too should the United States and Europe act in the best interests of our countries. If refusing to invite Ukraine into NATO would harm our national security, there might have been a case for ignoring Putin’s warnings. If, on the other hand, Western security would be harmed or weakened by inviting Ukraine into NATO, then regardless of any threats Putin did or didn’t make, we should have withdrawn any such an invitation.

As the next installment in this series will detail, it was precisely on this seemingly obvious logic that U.S., NATO, and Ukrainian leaders committed fateful errors that made war all but inevitable.

It is completely understandable why Kyiv would desire to be in NATO. Ukraine and Russia have been hostile towards one another for decades but have been in open military clashes since 2014. It is, therefore, entirely reasonable for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to press as hard as he can to lobby NATO countries for entrance.

Ukraine

Russian T-72 tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

But it should be an outright obligation for Washington and Brussels to avoid being cajoled into a bad decision because of the emotional plea of a non-treaty aspirant. NATO’s first and priority responsibility lies in ensuring the security and well-being of the existing 30 members. Anything that would put the populations of those members at military or economic risk should be rejected. American and European leaders failed on this fundamental obligation and millions in Ukraine – and tens of millions more in Europe and the U.S. – are already paying the price.

The next assessment of this periodic series will examine the last few months leading up to the war, showing the many off-ramps that could have been taken, either by NATO or Ukraine, to prevent the outbreak of hostilities. Arrogance by the West and an unwillingness by Zelensky to make sound decisions based on objective reality doomed Ukraine to a war that almost certainly could have been avoided.

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis

Written By

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Ross

    August 23, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    So an authoritarian country consuming a democratic country on NATOs doorstep would have been a good thing for NATO and Western Europe? If his goal was to reduce NATO’s presence on the Russian border why has ne not invaded Finland since they have now joined? Seems this war, just like Al-Qaeda’s idea to kick the US out of the middle east, completely backfired and did the opposite of what Putin wanted.
    Is Russia better off now then it was 6 months ago? Are they stronger or weaker? Pretty sure this was a horrible idea and Russia is now much weaker then they were 6 months ago.

  2. Roger colman

    August 23, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Daniel should move to Russia. Ukrainians have a democratic to choose whether to apply to join the EU or NATO. Or stop teaching Russian. The language of a nation that has in all its history with ukraine been an exploiter of ukrainian riches.
    Daniel should appreciate that his regular appeasement of Russian bad behaviour, assassinations and poll interferences on the domestic affairs I’d democracies, is a moral bankruptcy.

  3. Jon

    August 23, 2022 at 7:44 pm

    More hogwash. Perhaps if NATO had disbanded and the US severed all ties with European nations? Perhaps if the Eu had disbanded, and each extended Most Favored Nation status to Russia? Perhaps if Ukraine had offered up half its lands in appeasement? If all of that had happened, Russia would simply have felt itself further empowered, and would now be threatening other nations and interests.

  4. Goran

    August 23, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    It is like watching an earthworm go in a detailed description on how wolves should act. Mr. Davis, the issue at hand is that you are speaking the language of cowardice, a language not everyone understands. You might have been in the military, but you obviously never felt what it’s like to be ready to die for one’s country.

  5. Irub

    August 23, 2022 at 9:13 pm

    What a load of (refuse).
    Between LNR, DNR and Crimea, Ukraine had 3 frozen conflicts with unsettled borders. That alone had effectively prevented any chance of Ukraine to join NATO. If Ukraine joining NATO was Russia’s only concern – they didn’t have to start the war. They could simply keep the conflicts frozen indefinitely.

  6. Irving David

    August 23, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    This guy is a Russian Apologist. In fact I would compare him to Lord Haw Haw whose famous call sign in the 1940s was “Germany Calling” I find it incredible that reputable broadcasters such as LBC in the UK give him so much airtime. Go and live in Russia.

  7. wayne

    August 23, 2022 at 10:34 pm

    As usual you have it backwards. Dec 2021? Are you kidding me as if Putin hadn’t already made up his mind by then. Complete ignorance of the political dynamic at work here from the Russian side and I think the American side as well. Look at the numbers for $10 billion somewhere from 33% to 50% of Russian conventional force destroyed. Thats the best spent money on defence ever! Especially when compared to the GWOT. Still not sure how there is no path to Ukrainian victory. What was the Viet Congs path in the Vietnam war what was the Talebans path in Afghanistan?

  8. 5am

    August 23, 2022 at 11:21 pm

    The fact that Russian aggression failed to deter NATO doesn’t minimize the salient points here. Any pushback against the west’s myopic approach to Russia’s clearly articulated positions regarding Ukraine/NATO is met with warmongering. The west stepped into this hornets nest with Russia

  9. David Chang

    August 23, 2022 at 11:54 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    People, military officers and police officers, are still not ready to against atheism. How can we defeat socialism parties when professors teaching students to believe atheism of which people in Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and Asia believe?

    So we must agree with Mr. Davis’ rational thought, even though it’s tough.

    Pray to God first, then against socialism parties in homeland, and put bible education back in K-12.

    Let our family, police, military, country, and state, fear God and obey Ten Commandments. Let United States be the helped Land. so God help us.

    God bless America.

  10. Scottfs

    August 24, 2022 at 2:23 am

    The supposed fear of a NATO expansion is hogwash. NATO has always been a defensive alliance. It is impossible to cite a single instance of NATO aggression against the USSR or Russia. NATO expansion would, however, have made it impossible for Russia to have attacked Ukraine.

    The continuation of the war in Ukraine is up solely to Ukraine. The West must continue to supply that nation with much more letal aid. As usual, cowardly politicians like Biden will not allow the war to be over. Give that country what it needs; more ammunition and modern aircraft.

    Putin is a little bald man with delusions of grandeur. If Obama had acted decisively when Russia moved against Crimea, this war would have not taken place.

    And we now know what a pathetic military the Russian army is.

  11. TotallyNotBiased

    August 24, 2022 at 4:02 am

    Mr. Davis is a proud scholar of Arthur Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Affairs

  12. Ján Macek

    August 24, 2022 at 5:14 am

    Putin is not acting in Russia’s best interests. Putin is acting in his own selfish interests. He is the spawn of the criminal KGB and thinks about the world and the course of history differently from Western politicians.
    He comes first and Russia comes second.
    Russia was in the Partnership for Peace, and there was cooperation with the NATO.

    Putin attacked Ukraine because he saw Ukraine as weak and corrupt and the West as disunited and weak.

    Sorry, but to me, a resident of a post-communist satellite state of the USSR, this text is naive.

  13. Jack

    August 24, 2022 at 6:31 am

    Putin has truthfully screwed Russia. Russia should have been using their oil wealth to advance its citizens standard of living. Ukraine and NATO were no threat to Russia. Nobody was sitting around planning on invading Russia and getting their stuff. Nobody was even thinking about Russia.
    Russia can save itself by removing Putin from power.

  14. Ezra Teter

    August 24, 2022 at 7:47 am

    A democracy does not ban political parties.

  15. Aldo

    August 24, 2022 at 7:52 am

    Russia trampled on the foundations of our modern world: the countries right to self-determination, right to national integrity, and right to choose own internal/external policies. Appeasement (read cowardice) is never a good recommendation on how to handle geopolitical threats, this article is a shameful Putin’s apology.

  16. from Russia with love

    August 24, 2022 at 8:40 am

    @Ross
    democratic Ukraine? after the bloody coup d’état carried out by the Ukrainian Nazis with the support of the United States? after 8 years of continuous ideological purges and the killing of thousands of those who disagree with the junta? 😲 democratic Ukraine, which democratic senator Biden comes to and democratically demands to dismiss the chief prosecutor who opened a criminal case on corruption against Biden’s democratic son? 😂 and the prosecutor is democratically dismissed. 🤣🤣🤣
    did you hit your head against the wall in the USA?

    did it get better in Russia? it definitely got better😎👍
    Russia got rid of parasites. Western-funded foreign agents packed up and fled Russia. the air has become noticeably cleaner.😉 Western companies have fled Russia, leaving their production here. this greatly contributes to the development of many industries in Russia. in 2014 sanctions revived Russian agriculture, in 2022 sanctions strengthened Russian industry. 😎👍 Russia trades for its own currency and thanks to sanctions, these incomes remain in Russia and do not go offshore. special thanks for what you did with the property of Russian olegarches abroad! the ordinary population of Russia is delighted with how the United States and its allies are robbing these rascals😎👍 I also want to say thank you for how the West treats the pro-Western opposition that fled Russia. we have a new kind of comedians.😂 The stupid Nazi West regularly proposes to impose some kind of sanctions against all Russians, these stupid idiots whom you call the opposition should support this. Naturally, they support it in unison, forgetting who they are and where they are. since according to the passport they are Russian and they have already fled to the west, they are the first to fall under the sanctions that they supported. 🤣 this is not an opposition, this is some kind of club of masochists.

    what did the US achieve? once again demonstrated to the whole world that being a friend of the United States is more dangerous than being an enemy of the United States.😎 all US allies have an economic and energy crisis. a food crisis is brewing. inflation is rising, living standards are falling, poverty is growing at a furious pace.
    US enemies don’t have these problems.😉

    PS
    can anyone explain why it is so scary for the US to tell the real reason for the start of the special operation?
    Russia warned foreign military attachés that if Ukraine tries to resolve the issue with Donbass by force, then Russia will respond in the harshest way. this was done at the official level. Ukraine tried – Russia answered.
    does admitting the facts ruin the picture of the lies that the US media has been painting for the last 6 months? how sad😂

  17. Dan

    August 24, 2022 at 8:50 am

    Well done, sir

  18. Alex

    August 24, 2022 at 8:53 am

    Ukraine has never been a democratic country. It has always been an oligarchy. And after the coup of 2014, even more so. How can a country be considered democratic if all opposition media and opposition parties are banned?

  19. David Chang

    August 24, 2022 at 10:25 am

    God bless people in the world.

    The statement of Kissinger in the 1999 hearing is that political scientists provoke Russia with propagating U.S. military deployment planning in East Europe.

    Kissinger oppose provoking Russia, and he also tell Russia people not think themselves victim.
    .
    But Kissinger make a more important suggestion that we should tell to people in Russia about morality Truth. Let people in Russia to make choice by themselves.

    So we shall hope people in United States and Russia worship God together, live in the country under God.
    And Ukraine should also abandon Ukraine Socialism which is the same as Nationalsozialist.

    God bless America.

  20. abraham lincoln

    August 24, 2022 at 11:19 am

    This article is SO stupid. It’s all America’s fault, eh? I bet Daniel Davis has some articles somewhere where he talks about how Britain and America pushed Germany into attacking Poland and starting World War II. Or how the Japanese were “pushed” into attacking Pearl Harbor after America refused to sell it any more oil after Japan began mass killing of Chinese people.
    This article is about one thing – Daniel Davis has been saying Ukraine could not win for months now. Now that Ukraine is on the cusp of going on the offensive and beginning to win the war, Davis has to cover his tracks. He has to switch from “Ukraine cannot win” to something else. So now he switches to “America is at fault here”. This is stupid and childish.

  21. JR Richardson

    August 24, 2022 at 11:56 am

    “It’s all those mean NATO countries’ fault. If only they would leave the poor misunderstood Russians alone, none of this would be happening.”

    Horseshit of the most feculent variety.

    Your thesis is utter nonsense. Putin did not invade a sovereign nation because he feared NATO expansion- he did so for purely domestic political reasons, and because he felt the risk calculus was in his favor. Given those circumstances, any attempt at ‘averting war’ would have been futile. Pandering to dictators does not end well historically, and you are living in a fool’s paradise if you truly think as you write.

    As far as the Ukrainian’s chances, they look pretty good for coming out of this a sovereign state in existence. That’s a lot better than Putin would have hoped for.

  22. Neil Ross Hutchings

    August 24, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    The goals of all the countries involved in the conflict (in addition to both of the combatants) now seem unobtainable. I cannot imagine any scenario that would return any of the lands that were already siezed back in 2014. I think Ukraine understands that as well, but are stuck in their current messaging out of fear of losing continued financial support from the West. I can only hope that the diplomats have been busy talking over the past months so that both sides can start turning down the volume of their respective rhetoric and start seeking a peace deal before winter. Good article and summary of the history leading to the conflict, I look forward to reading the rest of the articles.

  23. MortenHj

    August 24, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    Nato doesn’t have plans to expand, it grows because countries ask to join.

  24. Yrral

    August 24, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    You think Putin ,is insane , somebody need to question the insanity of Zelensky,in a his rambling delusional independence day,he ramble how Ukraine was the savior of the world,and humankind fate will be determined,in Ukraine,if they is the case we are all doomed Google Ukrinform

  25. Orient Express

    August 24, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    as I expected, my previous comment was not published. What about the first Amendment to the constitution? When will we stop lying to ourselves? Everything that happens in Ukraine is fully planned and implemented by the United States and Britain. It is completely in their interests and it was they who did not allow Ukraine to resolve all issues with Russia in peace. Therefore, it is incorrect to ask if it was possible to solve everything in peace. It is necessary to ask why the United States and Britain needed this war with Russia so much?

  26. OIF Combat Vet

    August 24, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    After six months Ukraine is a bigger money pit than it was in its first month…American politicians, DoD contractors and the Ukrainian kleptocracy continue to gorge on Chinese loans at America’s expense.

  27. J Gay

    August 24, 2022 at 9:18 pm

    Possibly if Crimea had not been unilaterally annexed by Russia, I may have agreed with Mr. Davis’s opinion. But that criminal act left the West little choice but to not reward Putin for his aggression.

  28. Serhio

    August 24, 2022 at 11:30 pm

    In order to threaten Russia, Ukraine did not have to join NATO at all. If Ukraine allowed American troops to enter its territory on the basis of an agreement between the United States and Ukraine, it would be no less a threat. The first step towards this was taken when the United States began to build its base in Ochakov. Finally, Ukraine signed its death sentence at the moment when Zelensky, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 20, 2022, said that Ukraine wanted to acquire nuclear weapons and this speech was met with applause from ALL the politicians of the Western world present. To admit the existence of an authoritarian armed with nuclear weapons (those who talk about “democracy” in Ukraine are either naive or stupid or have some interest from this. Newspapers and TV channels belonging to the opposition are banned in Ukraine, opposition parties are banned, unwanted politicians and journalists are thrown into prison or killed) and no adequate politician can allow an openly Nazi regime on the borders of Russia. Any agreement on the suspension of hostilities that would leave at least a small part of Ukraine under the control of the United States would mean that all the sacrifices were in vain and the war would continue after the United States again pumped this stump of Ukraine with weapons, money and hatred. This means that such an agreement will not be concluded. Ukraine can be erased from the political map, such a state will no longer exist.

  29. Serhio

    August 24, 2022 at 11:44 pm

    “NATO has always been a defensive alliance. It is impossible to cite a single instance of NATO aggression against the USSR or Russia.”

    Don’t make my slippers laugh, they’re already funny. Tell us about the friendly “defensive alliance” to the residents of Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. All those countries where the NATO military came to “defend” and killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions without housing and livelihood.

  30. Serhio

    August 25, 2022 at 12:54 am

    #abraham lincoln “I bet Daniel Davis has some articles somewhere where he talks about how Britain and America pushed Germany into attacking Poland and starting World War II.”

    If you get out of the “zone of ignorance” and read serious literature, then many discoveries await you.

    It was not pushed to Poland. However, Germany was diligently nurtured as a tool to fight the USSR. Who is to blame that the “tool” had its own thoughts about the owners.

    Since 1923, the leading circles of England and the United States have been actively pursuing a line aimed at the militarization of Germany, assuring the world community that she (Germany) is not able to fulfill the reparations requirements stipulated by the Versailles Treaty. Under the pretext of helping to restore the German economy, Britain and the United States organized extensive financial assistance to Germany. During the period from 1924 to 1939, at least 500 billion rubles were invested in German industry . stamps.

    These funds were used primarily to create the basis of Germany’s military and economic power, which soon allowed it to start preparing for a new war and become one of the most industrialized countries in the world.

    The Second World War would have been impossible without the participation of British and American money. With the help of Western democracies, more than 300 large military factories were built in the Third Reich. Standard Oil, Dupont, General Motors, ITT, Ford and many others forged German swords.

    In those years, Britain itself had not yet fully re-equipped its military aviation, but its military-industrial complex, with the consent of official London, was selling the latest military aircraft to Germany with might and main. British shipbuilders built military vessels for the Kriegsmarine. Many of them will then take part in the so-called “Battle of the Atlantic” against the British Navy. And they will drown the British

    On the eve of World War II , British economist Paul Einzig wrote: “If Judgment Day ever comes, then the responsibility for the deaths of British soldiers and civilians will have to be placed on the lenient position of the English government.”

    The Allies (England and France) in the 30s could easily wring the Fuhrer’s neck. Germany was extremely weak. Hitler, his entourage and the generals knew this. In the early years, the Nazis had only militant marches, beautiful banners and speeches instead of real power. But they didn’t do it. And why?

  31. Serhio

    August 25, 2022 at 1:03 am

    “at least 500 billion rubles were invested in German industry”
    Not rubles, deutschmark.

  32. Frederick Serafim

    August 25, 2022 at 7:53 am

    I agree with Mr. Davis. The sooner we start listening to people like him, the better off we’ll be. The US and NATO are in decline and hubristic bravado and foreign meddling based upon nationalistic propaganda won’t help.

  33. Jim

    August 25, 2022 at 10:42 am

    The problem with warhawks, neocons, and neoliberals is they see the world as they want to see it.

    But reality is different.

    There is a gap between perception and reality.

    The front lines have been relatively static. That allows this continued “happy talk,” all the while Russia is “chewing away” at the front.

    But it will obviously take a “break out” by Russia (Ukraine has not been able to generate a “counter offensive”, let alone a large “break out”.)

    Undeniable substantial territorial conquest is the only event which will jolt warhawks, neocons, and neoliberal into reality.

    The question: will the warhawks man-up and face reality when the time comes when it can’t be ignored anymore?

  34. Richard

    August 25, 2022 at 10:48 am

    You have to address the deployment of over 100k Ukraine troops around the Donbas line of contact in December 2021, and the massive increase in artillery shelling into the Donbas in the weeks before the war began. That was Ukraine’s fault and initiative.

    The Ukraine (with unofficial NATO backing) was in all likelihood going to strike at Donbas in late February or March. It would have been a repeat of Operation Storm in Croatia.

    Putin preempted that plot. And because of the ethnic/national and humanitarian character of that threat, he was able to use the exact same legal arguments under the UN Charter that the US and NATO made in Kosovo. But Putin’s legal defense is much stronger, as it was based on facts on Russia’s border, including thousands of Donbas civilians killed by Ukrainian forces and fascist militias since 2014.

  35. Rob

    August 25, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    Daniel Davis’ predictions and prognostications have been proven wrong over and over and yet he continues to trot them out as if they will be proven correct in the long run. Fact; the war is going very badly for Russia. Yes it is going badly for Ukraine as well but Ukrainian morale has made a difference. The poor schlubs of Putin’s army now realize that they are cannon fodder. How long until they surpass 100,000 dead. How long until the families at home realize that their kids aren’t coming back from a war of choice which has only exposed Russian weakness and achieved only negative results for the country.

    Also, why does 1945 enable this pro-russian troll?

  36. Jim

    August 25, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    My apology, my previous comment was reflecting my opinion of the current status of the conflict.

    To answer the author’s question:

    Yes, the war could have been avoided altogether.

    The (core) Russian demands before the invasion were straight forward:

    1. No offensive missiles in Ukraine.

    2. Recognize Crimea as sovereign Russian territory.

    3. Neutrality for Ukraine.

    (How many times did the mainstream media present these three core Russian demands to the American People? Hardly ever, as I remember it.)

    Two of the three demands are reasonable on their face.

    No offensive missiles in Ukraine (like no offensive missiles in Cuba)… and the Biden admin. gave verbal assurances it would not do so.

    Recognize Crimea as Russian is a reflection of then present military realities, history, and democratic protocols Russia followed before officially incorporating Crimea.

    The third condition, “neutrality” could easily have been something subject to negotiation (over time and in good faith).

    Acceptance of the first two demands and good faith negotiation of the third would have satisfied Russia and no invasion would have happened.

    But “pound sand” diplomacy from the U. S. precipitated & provoked the Russian invasion.

    The U. S. State Department’s core mission is diplomacy.

    And one of the core missions of diplomacy is the avoidance of war.

    “Pound sand” diplomacy, is no diplomacy at all.

    And war was the result.

  37. Tallifer

    August 25, 2022 at 12:52 pm

    The expansion of NATO is not an aggressive act against anyone. It is the generous response to the heartfelt clamour from eastern European countries for mutual protection from expansionist dictatorships.

  38. Dan Farrand

    August 25, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    “Before going any further, however, it bears pointing out up front: Vladimir Putin started this war, and he alone is responsible for its initiation.”

    I suppose you have to say this to avoid being cancelled and de-platformed. Otherwise the statement is empty of content.

    I suppose it’s like saying that only Germany was responsible for WWI – just like the victorious allies insisted.

    It’s like saying that because I shot a guy who used a hammer to break into my house, I fired the first shot. Factually true on some level but somewhat irrelevant to the actual story.

    But, with that said, I look forward to reading the series

  39. Neil Ross Hutchings

    August 25, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    Before you judge a man (or country), walk a mile in his shoes. Russia has asked to join NATO on various occasions, and has always been turned down. Popular support in Russia remains high for the conflict in Ukraine and I seriously doubt that the Russian leadership or populace has any imperialistic ambitions in Europe beyond Ukraine. Occupation of the eastern bloc countries post WW2 no doubt was seen as retribution of sorts for being the primary country that defeated Nazi Germany as well as being a buffer against any future invasions by western european countries, which historically has been the case. Maybe the former U.S. President had the correct policy with respect to Russia after all.

  40. Walker

    August 26, 2022 at 12:14 am

    Davis gets lots of comments for two reasons. One, he is a Russian troll magnet. There is a reason they love him, he seems fully gullible to their rhetoric. Two, the rest of us are here pointing out his poor reasoning.

    As others here have stated. NATO isn’t a threat to Russia. Not the way Davis and the Russian trolls would have us think. NATO is as some have pointed out, a defensive organization. Countries join because they are afraid of larger neighbors. That is the threat Russia and Putin specifically doesn’t like. Once in NATO, these countries are no longer under Putin’s thumb. And Russia loses control over them because the threats of invasion are completely removed from the table. In a world of self determination, this is a good thing and only piece of shite Russian apologists like Davis would be against it.

    You want an even easier way that we could have prevented the war? We should have accepted Ukraine into NATO first. That would have been the right way to avoid this war. Since we didn’t do that, we are responsible to help Ukraine free itself from Putin’s tyranny.

  41. Vladislav

    August 26, 2022 at 9:17 am

    The only question that remains unsolved after reading this article is whether its author is “useful idiot” or paid agent. Otherwise, the whole set of his arguments is neither new nor convincing.

    I live in Russia and what irritates me most of all is that there are so many apologists (even if they cover under pretense of objectivity) for this bloody maniac that torments my country (and its neighbors) for more than two decades. Putin never defended real Russian interests. I am sure that now he does Chinese bidding. China uses corrupt Russia in order to poke the West, to try its defenses. Putin and his gang were bought by China and will do whatever Chinese “comrades” would order them to do.

  42. Moscow never sleep

    August 26, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    @Vladislav A useful idiot is you for the West. Your unconfirmed nonsense doesn’t even make sense to comment. 80% of the Russian population’s support for Putin, confirmed by a foreign agent- Levada Center says that you are writing nonsense, you can deceive part of the population, you can deceive the entire population for a short time, but it is impossible to deceive the entire population of the country all the time.
    @Walker troll is the only one here and that’s you. Tell us about the absence of a threat from NATO to the inhabitants of Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and many others. Their multimillion-dollar sacrifices to the American Empire proves the opposite. All the NATO countries that received membership before that became colonies of the United States controlled by puppets, no one asked the residents of these countries. NATO is a military-political alliance serving for a single purpose to keep these countries in the political orbit of the United States.

  43. Veritas

    August 26, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    The Russia – Ukraine War At Six Months: everybody know that it will happen when Ukraine become independent state in 1991.

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