It is critical to understand past events that helped lead to Russia’s war. We must push for a diplomatic end to the war if we wish to avoid more human suffering and the ongoing risk of nuclear Armageddon.

By Thomas Moller-Nielsen, Current Affairs

DIANA MAGNAY (SKY NEWS PRESENTER): What is it that you think that the West does not understand about Russia or your intentions?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Does the West understand or fail to understand something? You know, sometimes I get the feeling we [Russia and the West] live in different worlds. I just talked about things that are obvious. How can you not understand them?

ukraine tanks

A few weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a “partial mobilization” of Russia’s armed forces and, not for the first time, threatened the West with nuclear annihilation. Given the seriousness of the threat—as well as the undeniable destructive power of the person who made it—the obvious question to ask is: How are we to avoid nuclear war? Basic common sense informs us that to answer this question satisfactorily we must first answer another: Why is nuclear war being threatened in the first place? What would compel the undeniably popular leader of a proud and culturally rich country of 144 million people to so brazenly jeopardize the future survival of his own people—and, indeed, the survival of the human species? What on Earth could possibly have led to this?

Many in the West have suggested that the answer to this question is obvious: it is that Putin is insane or dying or frustrated in his failure to resurrect the Tsarist empire or Soviet Union and/or destroy Ukraine. Such answers, however, are at best extremely simplistic and, at worst, distract us from the true—or, at the very least, far more significant—causes of the current crisis. Let us try to understand just what those causes are.

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