Map of Europe showing NATO member states, Russia and Ukraine.
Scholars like Mearsheimer have argued that the West is mostly to blame for the Russo-Ukrainian war. | Map source: (personal editing)

“Russian Self-Defense”? Fact-Checking Arguments on the Russo-Ukrainian War by John J. Mearsheimer and Others

In the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, and in the wider Russo-Western conflict, both sides compete over international influence as well as over how Ukraine and Russia are governed. While most would agree with this general assessment, prominent scholars like John J. Mearsheimer and others have argued that the West caused these confrontations by aggressively expanding its influence and preferred regime type into Ukraine, thus forcing Russia’s hand. However, while Russia’s perceptions of NATO evidently played a role in its decisions, a recent study finds that Mearsheimer’s arguments are at best incomplete and at worst simply false.