Why NATO Expansion is NOT Responsible for Putin’s War

Jakub Ferencik
4 min readJul 18, 2022

John Mearsheimer’s famous talk, viewed more than 27 million times on YouTube, has promoted the idea that the West is principally responsible for Putin’s war in Ukraine.

The talk has been quoted by public intellectuals like Jordan Peterson and has even been promoted by The Economist.

We are all, at least vaguely, familiar with the concept because Vladimir Putin used similar reasoning to justify his invasion of Ukraine.

This begs the question, since Finland and Sweden showed interest in joining NATO in 2022 following his full-scale invasion, why not invade them?

He doesn’t have the troops, you may say, but there’s much more to it. Putin wants to restore an Empire — an imagined Russia that relies on its fair share of historic revisionism.

Photo by Tong Su on Unsplash

There is a big difference between NATO expansion and the Soviet Union’s expansion into Central Eastern Europe via the Warsaw Pact (which included East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Albania, and Bulgaria). These countries couldn’t choose their fate and were forced to adopt Communist parties subject to the Kremlin.

Contrast that with NATO expansion which is entirely voluntary. Not one country was forced into the defensive alliance. NATO merely accepts candidates. That is why…



Jakub Ferencik

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