John Mearsheimer: “There is no evidence for Russian imperialism” — Why He’s Fundamentally Wrong

Jakub Ferencik
4 min readFeb 27, 2023

In a recent interview with CCP media, John Mearsheimer claimed that there’s “no evidence” of Russian imperialism (let alone, colonialism) in Ukraine. He instead claims that there is plenty of evidence for “NATO expansionism.”

Mearsheimer explains that Putin was “fearful” that the West would create Ukraine a type of satellite state, as the Warsaw Pact states were in the late-20th century in central-eastern Europe.

He’s fundamentally wrong. Here’s why.

Photo by Miguel Henriques on Unsplash

This is not the first time Mearsheimer has made widespread headlines in his discussions of Ukraine and Russia.

In a lecture titled “Why is Ukraine the West’s Fault?” with nearly 30 million views (as of February 27, 2022), the political scientist and realist, John Mearsheimer, argued that Putin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 came because of a 2008 NATO announcement for Georgia and Ukraine to join the defensive alliance.

This line of reasoning echoes the Russian trope that their invasion and killing of tens of thousands of Ukrainians is because NATO expansion somehow threatens Russian sovereignty. This is wrong in every imaginable way.

NATO expansion came as a result of personal self-interest from the West (sure…



Jakub Ferencik

Journalist in Prague | Author of “Up in the Air,” “Beyond Reason,” & "Surprised by Uncertainty" on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | 750+ articles with 1+ mil. views