Bernie Sanders Says U.S. 'Hypocritical' To Reject Russia Concerns Over NATO Expansion

Senator Bernie Senator has said that the U.S. was "hypocritical" in dismissing Russia's concerns about NATO's eastward expansion as he took aim at the rhetoric coming from Washington over the Ukraine crisis.

In an op-ed for The Guardian, the Vermont independent lawmaker said Russian President Vladimir Putin was "most responsible" for the threat of war and that the U.S. must "unequivocally support" Ukraine's sovereignty.

Sanders said that while it was important for the international community "to impose severe consequences" on Putin should Russia invade, he wrote, "I am extremely concerned when I hear the familiar drum beats in Washington."

He said that he feared the "bellicose rhetoric that gets amplified before every war, demanding that we must 'show strength,' 'get tough' and not engage in 'appeasement.'"

He wrote that understanding the "complex roots of the tensions" are needed to pave the way for a diplomatic resolution.

Sanders outlined how since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the overriding Russian concern towards NATO, set up initially to counter the threat posed by Moscow, was an expansion of the alliance.

"Putin may be a liar and a demagogue, but it is hypocritical for the United States to insist that we do not accept the principle of 'spheres of influence,'" wrote Sanders. He referred to the Monroe Doctrine, the policy that opposed European colonialism in the Americas.

"Even if Russia was not ruled by a corrupt authoritarian leader like Vladimir Putin, Russia, like the United States, would still have an interest in the security policies of its neighbors," he said.

"Does anyone really believe that the United States would not have something to say if, for example, Mexico was to form a military alliance with a US adversary?"

"The U.S. and Ukraine entering into a deeper security relationship is likely to have some very serious costs—for both countries," Sanders wrote, "wars have unintended consequences…Just ask the officials who provided rosy scenarios for the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq."

After a round of shuttle diplomacy between Kyiv and Moscow, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he saw the chance of "concrete, practical solutions" to lower tensions between Russia and the West.

Russia announced Tuesday it would carry out large-scale tank drills near Ukraine. However, the Kremlin also announced that Russian troops taking part in exercises in Belarus—which had sparked concerns of a wider front—would return to their bases this month.

Although Russia has repeatedly denied it would invade Ukraine, a poll shows that most people in European countries believe otherwise.

A survey conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) found majorities in France (51 percent), Germany (52 percent), Italy (51 percent), Poland (73 percent), Romania (64 percent) and Sweden (55 percent) thought that Russia will invade Ukraine this year.

The survey released Wednesday also found that Europeans are relying on NATO and the EU to defend and not the United States should and "do not trust the United States to be as, or more, committed to the defence of the EU citizens' interest in the event that Russia invades Ukraine."

"The Russia-Ukraine crisis could turn out to be a watershed for European security," Mark Leonard, co-founder and director of ECFR said in a statement to Newsweek.

He said that while EU states "have been portrayed as divided, weak and absent on Ukraine" the survey showed that European citizens "are united."

"They agree that Vladimir Putin might pursue military action, and that Europe, together with its NATO partners, should ride to Ukraine's aid," Leonard said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Ukrainian serviceman
A Ukrainian serviceman (R) at the frontline held by Ukraine's 503rd Detached Marine Battalion on February 7, 2022 near Verkhnotoretske, Ukraine. Senator Bernie Sanders (L) has criticized Washington's rhetoric towards Russia over fears of an invasion of Ukraine. Getty