Any explanation for the outbreak of war in Ukraine has to allow for the convergence and interaction of multiple short and longer term factors that set the stage and triggered Putin’s order to invade an independent, sovereign country. In ths regard, the expansion of NATO figures into any explanation for Putin’s decision, but to turn it into the singular factor renders a complex of factors and their consequences – the social and economic collapse of the 1990s, the rise of Russian nationalism, the political formation and psychology of Putin, the changing political dynamics of Ukraine and its drift to the West – invisible and thus empty of explanatory-causal weight.
To turn the rollback of NATO, moreover, into the main focus of the peace movement’s energies is wrongheaded too. A ceasefire, negotiations, and the withdrawal of Russia’s troops from Ukraine should be its main demands, it seems to me. Only the silencing of the guns of war, the return of Russian soldiers to Russia, and a free and independent Ukraine will restore some sense of normalcy to that besigned and battered country, puncture the bubble of war fever, gripping too many capitals, and give peace, disarmament, and global cooperation a chance.