Ukraine: The Realist View (15th Feb 2021)

This interview with John Mearsheimer was recorded on Tuesday 15th February at Kings College, Cambridge University, online forum, just before Russia invaded Ukraine on the 24th of February. Mearsheimer is a renowned American political scientist and international relations scholar, of the realist school of thought. He presents a view that contradicts what we have been presented with by the mainstream, with regard to the underlying causes of the crisis (presented by Mearsheimer in a lecture from 2015), and goes on to define just what has he believes has precipitated the crisis that has so tragically and rapidly unfolded.

His central argument is that since the advent of the Trump administration, the USA and its allies have accelerated the arming and training of the Ukraine military, with a view to turning Ukraine into a de facto NATO. state. He stresses that, from his realist perspective, this must be unequivocally unacceptable to Russia. Further, he points to recent provocations to Russia carried out by way of territorial incursions made by the British and the Americans. Mearsheimer concludes this talk by saying that the crisis would go on for a long time. It seems that even though he is clear that the Russians had reached their ‘boiling point’, does not anticipate an imminent Russian invasion. In the course of answering the last question, which was about the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons in this crisis, he even says, “I don’t think they are going to invade.”