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The Role of NATO Enlargement in the Ukraine Crisis

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The Ukraine crisis has spawned an East–west confrontation that was generated by misperceptions on both sides: (1) by Russian perceptions of security challenges resulting from NATO’s enlargement, as Moscow reacted (and over-reacted) to the threat that Ukraine would become a member and, as such, would pose a danger to Russia; and (2) by Western blindness to (or lack of concern for) the genuine worries that the prospect of Ukrainian membership stirred in Russian minds. This article briefly examines the gradual strengthening of these mutual misperceptions as NATO engaged in its process of enlargement. It argues that the prospect of Ukraine’s imminent membership brought to a boil the long-brewing clash of assumptions about requirements for Europe’s security.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science, University of Tulsa,


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