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Australian Broadcasting Corporation | 05Feb2015 | Timothy Snyder v. John Mearsheimer [17:55, audio]
Between the Lines, hosted by Tom Switzer on ABCRN

Crisis in Ukraine

[W.Z. The debate between Timothy Snyder from Yale University and John Mearsheimer  at the University of Chicago, broadcast on 05Feb2015 is summarized below. The anti-Ukrainian position of Mr. Mearshimer is best explained by his statement: "States that live next to great powers don't have the right to pursue any foreign policy they want."  Mearshimer's "might makes right" attitude attempts to justify the genocidal imperialistic policy of Russia towards Ukraine -- which presumably also justifies the policies of Hitler's Germany and all the other imperialistic empires of the past centuries. In effect, Mearshimer supports the "rape, loot and pillage" mindset of Vladimir Putin and many Russian "nationalists" towards Ukraine, Europe and the rest of the world.

Switzer[00:00]: Summarizes the situation in Ukraine.

Mearsheimer[01:33]: Russians won't tolerate Ukraine in NATO -- will go to great lengths to destroy Ukraine.

Snyder [03:01]: Ukrainians didn't support NATO membership until they were invaded by Russia. NATO (and U.S.) is not the main issue -- it is Europe.

Snyder[04:51]: There are no documents that U.S. promised not to expand NATO. Present Russian offensive is not about NATO -- it is about weakening the European Union.

Mearshimer [05:39]: NATO expansion was still on the table in 2008, when U.S. said that Georgia and Ukraine could become NATO members in the future. Secondly, Russia resented EU expansion and promotion of democracy. The 22Feb2014 "coup" in Kyiv which precipatated the present crisis. If the West doesn't back off, Russia will wreck Ukraine.

Switzer [07:16]: Nationalism seems to be the driving force in Ukraine.

Mearshimer [08:01]: Ukrainians and people in the West believe in self-determination. Foolish way to think about international politics. "States that live next to great powers don't have the right to pursue any foreign policy they want." E.g. Cuba, Taiwan. "The fact is [that] Ukraine is going to end up destroying itself, if it continues to act as if it has the right to join forces with the West."

Snyder [09:32]: Nationalism in most countries is considered to be a positive attribute. The European system has done a pretty good job in preventing war in Europe. Russia is not reacting to some threat from Europe. What Russia is doing is initiating a threat to Europe. When Russia says it has the right to protect people who speak Russian around the world or it has the right to defend Russian civilization, it's breaking precisely the rules of sovereignty in a way which history shows is very dangerous.

Switzer [10:44]: Late last year, Mersheimer argued that Ukraine should accept its fate to being a buffer state.

Snyder [11:20]: What has changed in the last year has little to do with Ukraine and the West, but a lot to do with Russia. In the summer of 2013 Russian foreign policy took a very substantial turn against the European Union -- adversay, decadent, dying civilization. Eurasian project (from Portugal to Vladivostok) was proposed as an alternative. Ukraine is a side effect. Need deal between Russia and European Union.

Unfortunately, Putin is not a great strategist. He opposed Ukraine's association agreement with European Union and concluded by funding the shooting of Maidan protesters. Catastrophically weakened Russia's position in Ukraine. Russia had a balance between European Union and China. He has tossed that away for Crimea. And now they are on he way of becomoing a satellite of China.

Mearshimer [13:30]: Disagrees that Russian foreign policy began to change in summer of 2013. Russian foreign policy changed after the 22Feb2014 "coup". ... All this was due to West encroaching on Russia's border.

Snyder [15:06]: You don't get to pick your fights. The chief fight is between Russia and the European Union. Russian people are being told that the United States is responsible for all the trouble in Ukraine. There was no "coup". This government was overturned as a result of massive popular unrest . ... There was no precipatent event which had anything to do with the NATO or EU.

Mearshimer [16:37]: There is no question that serious escalation will occur, if what you describe happens. .. If we arm the Ukrainians, the Russians will respond by moving more troops and more equipment into Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine will be desroyed even faster than it is now being destroyed. You are antagonizing a nuclear power.

Snyder [17:18]: The whole Russian miscalculation is based on the idea that Ukraine is going to fall apart. ... Agrees with Mearshimer that the Russians have to be given a way out. "This is a disasterous war for everyone concerned, perhaps above all Russia."