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Williams Piece on Putin’s Fear of Democracy Published in the Atlantic Council UkraineAlert Blog

March 10, 2023

Atlantic Council

Michael J. Williams

Michael J. Williams

"Throughout the past year, the Kremlin has sought to blame the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on decades of post-Cold War NATO expansion. Many international commentators have accepted these Russian claims uncritically and have argued that the West must accept a high degree of responsibility for provoking what has become the largest European conflict since World War I," writes Michael Williams, associate professor of public administration and international affairs.

"In reality, Putin has always known that NATO poses no credible security threat to Russia itself. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO’s force posture and the U.S. military presence in Europe have greatly declined, reducing any potential military threat to Russia," Williams says.

"What really scares the Russian elite is the spread of democracy," he argues. "Today’s war can be traced directly back to the pro-democracy revolutions that rocked the former Soviet neighborhood in the early 2000s, all of which were bottom-up political movements that called for more accountable government while demanding the rule of law."

Read more in the article, "How Putin’s fear of democracy convinced him to invade Ukraine," published in the Atlantic Council UkraineAlert blog.

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