The Foreign Service Journal, October 2022

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | OCTOBER 2022 27 Did ReallyCausePutin’s Invasion? Ken Moskowitz served in the Foreign Service for 30 years. He holds a Ph.D. in theatre arts from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, and is a former director of the Tokyo Ameri- can Center. He is an adjunct professor of political sci- ence at Temple University’s Japan campus. This is an expanded and revised version of an article that appeared in the May 2022 edition of the American Diplomacy online journal. A seasoned diplomat considers this question in light of his own experience. BY KEN MOSKOWI TZ I n March 1999, while serving as the press attaché at the U.S. Embassy Kyiv, I hosted a full-day international conference to mark the 50 years since NATO was established. Speakers included Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security Council Volodymyr Horbulin, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer, U.S. Principal Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States Ross Wilson, the chairman of the British parliamentary committee on national security, and Sergei Karaganov, a leading Russian expert on foreign policy who is now a close adviser to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. One could argue that the goal of such a conference sponsored by the American embassy was to promote NATO expansion, particularly to urge Ukraine to join the Western alliance. But that is not how I remember it. Typically, U.S. government public diplomacy like this does not bluntly advocate, but rather presents information or views that would be new to our local audiences. A more forceful NATO appeal for membership for Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, emerged from the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008. At our conference on NATO in 1999, divergent views were expressed, but there was no outright opposition. The Western speakers tended to celebrate NATO’s notable success at keeping Europe at peace since the end of World War II. Even Karaganov, with close ties to the then-leadership, President Boris Yeltsin, did not raise a red flag. The Russian leadership did, however, object strongly to encroachments on Russia’s sphere of influence. This was also the decade in which NATO was promoting the “Partner- ship for Peace” for coordination with NATO programs and pos- sible eventual membership. At the time of the conference, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were all on the verge of becom- ing NATOmembers, the first of 14 former Soviet-dominated countries that would eventually join the alliance. The Issue of NATO Expansion Twenty-three years later, President Putin has made Ukraine’s preliminary steps to joining NATO the principal grounds for the Russian invasion of Feb. 24, 2022. The alliance’s leaders have PERSPECTIVES ON UKRAINE FOCUS Expansion NATO