In an op-ed published by the German newspaper Die Zeit, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced NATO expansion as a “relic of the Cold War.” Putin penned the piece to commemorate the 8oth anniversary of Nazi Germany invading the Soviet Union.
“We hoped that the end of the Cold War would be a common victory for Europe,” Putin wrote. “But a different approach has prevailed based on the expansion of NATO, a relic of the Cold War. Fourteen new countries, including the former Soviet Union republics, joined the organization, effectively dashing hopes for a continent without dividing lines.”
Since the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, NATO has grown from 16 member states to 30. The military alliance has also waged wars of aggression across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Balkans. Although both the US and NATO appear not to be in any hurry to admit Ukraine, Kyiv is eager to join the alliance, something Russia has said would be a “red line.”
In the op-ed, Putin took shots at the US for orchestrating the 2014 coup in Ukraine that ousted Viktor Yanukovych. “Why did the United States organize a coup, and why did the countries of Europe weakly support it, provoking a split in Ukraine itself and the withdrawal of Crimea?” he wrote. “Now the entire system of European security has seriously degraded. Tensions are growing, and the risks of a new arms race are becoming real.”
Putin met with President Biden last week in Geneva. While the summit appeared to go well, and the two leaders agreed to return ambassadors to each other’s capitals, the US has since threatened new sanctions on Russia, a sign that the Biden administration is determined to escalate tensions with Moscow.