Only the very naïve and ignorant will pretend that the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 was a bolt out of the blue; or that President Vladimir Putin woke up that morning and decided to have his tanks roll in the direction of Kyiv. The war clouds have been gathering for quite sometime now — some would say for the last several years; but most certainly in the last five or six months. The problem is that the main actors in the West, notably the leaderships in the United States and Europe were not paying careful and serious attention to the real substance of what Putin was saying.
Lessons of history are at times painful in international relations or in the conduct of interstate diplomacy. In 1962 the world was witness to a tense two week showdown between the United States and the then Soviet Union over what came to be known as the Cuban missile crisis. It all had to do with Washington vehemently objecting to Moscow’s placing missiles in Cuba — the Kennedy administration would have nothing to do with the then Soviet Union stationing offensive missiles so close to the coast of Florida, or basically in its “backyard.”