World headlines | Bill Clinton disputes responsibility for the Ukraine conflict

According to the former US president, if NATO hadn't grown during his administration, the conflict in Eastern Europe would have started sooner.

Bill Clinton, a former US president, disputed claims that NATO's eastward expansion under his watch helped pave the way for the current Ukraine crisis, asserting that Russia would have begun to pose a security threat to its neighbors much earlier in the absence of the Western military alliance's presence in the area.

In an interview with CNN that aired on Sunday, Clinton stated, "I think we did the right thing at the right time, and if we hadn't done it, this problem might have occurred even sooner." In 1999, during Clinton's second term, three former Warsaw Pact nations—Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic—joined NATO. In 2004, seven other nations, three former Soviet republics, followed.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian politicians have accused NATO of breaching agreements made on restraints on eastward expansion. Between 2009 and 2020, the union added four members from the Balkans, and it promised to eventually add Georgia, another ex-Soviet republic, and Ukraine.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO's encroachment on Moscow has increased a threat to national security that is "unacceptable."

According to Clinton, he made an effort to persuade Putin to support NATO's security plans. "When I did what I did, I offered Russia not only a special partnership with NATO but also the possibility of eventually becoming a member of NATO, contending that our biggest security problems in the future would come from non-state actors or authoritarian states selling chemical, biological, and nuclear capacity to terrorist groups.

Putin has expressed regret for both the fall of the Soviet Union and Nikita Khrushchev's 1954 decision to cede Crimea to Ukraine in previous remarks, the former US president cited. He declared, "I don't see how we could be surprised" by the current crisis in light of their opinions. According to Putin, the Soviet Union's dissolution was a humanitarian disaster for most of the Russian people. Moscow, though, has denied any intention of reviving the Soviet Union, describing it as "impossible."

William Perry, who served as Secretary of Defense under Clinton from 1994 to 1997, thinks that by disregarding Russia's internal security concerns and post-USSR challenges, the US contributed to its enmity with Moscow and that this must be acknowledged before relations with Moscow can be repaired.

In an opinion post earlier this month, Perry stated that the West's inaction during Russia's financial crisis and disregard for their staunch opposition to NATO expansion "confirmed a prevalent Russian perception that we didn't take them seriously." A lot of Westerners considered Russia to be the Cold War loser and unworthy of our regard.

Clinton nonetheless stated, "I am more convinced today than I was then that we did the right thing.

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