Who is John Mearsheimer & Why is He So Wrong About Putin?

Jakub Ferencik
4 min readFeb 28

My recent article on John Mearsheimer, the prominent international relations scholar, is making a splash, so I thought — since it’s reading break and I only have a few essays to write — I’d write another blog post explaining who Mearsheimer is for those who might not be aware.

I’ll also explain the context of recent controversies and why getting the facts right is so important. I really believe that the future of world order depends on understanding why Putin is lying about his perceived “threat” of NATO.

In previous posts, I’ve been criticized for straw-manning Mearsheimer’s views, so here is an attempt to remedy that. I’ve engaged with them quite a bit and I think there are good reasons to assume that Mearsheimer has gone off the rails on this one.

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

John Mearsheimer’s chief contributions have been to the field of security studies. His now-infamous argument that there is no evidence for Russian imperialism is based on the idea that Russia is simply pursuing its legitimate security interests in the face of “aggressive” NATO expansion.

As my readers know, this view is not supported by any shred of credible evidence. Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Georgia, and other former Soviet republics are clearly both aggressive and imperialistic.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was a clear violation of international law and demonstrated its willingness to use military force to expand its influence. In retrospect, it was very clear that Putin aimed to control all of Ukraine and that he didn’t see Ukraine as a legitimate nation.

Russia’s support for separatist movements in eastern Ukraine and Georgia was indicative of its desire to maintain a sphere of influence in the region until the full-scale invasion.

Who knows if Putin knew when exactly he wanted to launch the full-scale invasion? It’s most likely that the pandemic got in the way of some of these plans since it put the world on a halt for two years or so.

Furthermore, Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election and its ongoing efforts to sow discord in Western democracies can be seen as part of a broader strategy to weaken the West and assert Russian influence on the world stage.

Jakub Ferencik

Author of “Up in the Air” & “Beyond Reason” available on AMAZON | MA McGill Uni | Research assistant for EUROPEUM Prague | 700+ blog posts with 1+ mil. views