Yes, The West Is Also to Blame for Putin’s War on Ukraine

Jakub Ferencik
5 min readMay 8

At the outset, I should be very clear. The moral responsibility for Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine is entirely with Vladimir Putin and his enablers.

That said, there are things the US (and the West/ Global North) more broadly could have done to deter Putin.

Let me explain.

Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

Many of my readers will know that I am not a fan of the political scientist John Mearsheimer and what he represents. For those who might not be familiar, Mearsheimer has infamously argued that Russia is simply pursuing its legitimate security interests in the face of “aggressive” NATO expansion.

Granted, this view could have some merit in the context of Russian perceptions of its own security interests, but it does not reflect the reality of Russia’s actions on the international stage. A big mistake in Western foreign policy is to view everything simply through “the Western” lens.

There is a “Global South.” There is a “Global North.” Their interests are not always aligned. India, China, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, all have different interests and they do not necessarily see the world the same way we do in (and I’m writing this from Canada) in the West.

That said, I believe there is also some merit in arguing that the West could have behaved much differently after Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In part, then, the West is to blame for Putin’s escalation. But the reason is very different than what Mearsheimer (and his apologists or fans) argue.

In 2014, Sanctions Were NOT Enough

In retrospect, the sanctions the West imposed on Russia after its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 were nowhere near close enough.

Sanctions targeted Russian oligarchs, their companies, and various sectors of the economy.

Some of these include:

  1. Economic sanctions: This resulted in a decline in foreign investment, reduced economic growth, and a devaluation of the Russian ruble.
  2. Energy sanctions: This slowed the development of new energy projects and investments or modernization of existing infrastructure.
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