During 2016, the relations between the U.S./NATO and Russia continued to worsen. According to the Western mainstream media, Russia was the problem due to its reactions to the U.S.-supported coup in the western part of Ukraine in February 2014. Those reactions included: 1) taking control of Crimea and, based on a vote of the people, restoring it to Russia; and 2) supporting the Ukrainian rebels who opposed the illegal coup.

The Western media ignored events that had occurred before this coup, such as the eastward expansion of NATO toward Russia's borders. This expansion was a blatant violation of a pledge by President George H.W. Bush's administration not to expand NATO to the east if the Soviet Union would allow the reunification of Germany. Unfortunately, the three subsequent U.S. presidents all violated this pledge by including Eastern European nations up to the Russian border in places.

In 1996, before any of the expansion had occurred, George Kennan, architect of the U.S. containment policy toward the Soviet Union after WWII, warned that NATO's expansion into former Soviet territories would be a "strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions." In 1998, Thomas Friedman solicited Kennan's reaction to the Senate's ratification of NATO's eastward expansion. Kennan said: "I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else."


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Unfortunately, Kennan was proved to be correct in his assessments. The U.S. and NATO have moved missiles and other weapons systems into several Eastern European nations, conducted massive war games there, and are stationing troops near the Russian border on a rotating basis. Russia has responded in kind moving troops inside Russia closer to its border and with other lesser provocations. The situation in Syria with Russia and the U.S. supporting opposing sides has further increased the possibility of a nuclear conflict.

At 7 p.m. next Friday, March 3, noted German peace activist Reiner Braun will address this issue in Eaton Humanities Building, Room 250 on the CU Boulder campus. Braun — currently the co-president of the International Peace Bureau ( ipb2016.berlin) in Berlin, Germany, and the executive director of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility and of the Scientists for Peace and Sustainability (Germany) — is well qualified to speak on this important issue. The event is free and sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. For more information, email carolyn@rmpjc.org or call 720-509-3378.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.