An intergovernmental military alliance among 28 European countries and 2 North American countries set up after WW2. During the Cold War it was balanced by the Warsaw Pact. Since then it has expanded its reach, even though Mikhail Gorbachev clarified in 2014 that while discussing the unification of Germany, it was highly requested to not be deployed on former East German soil. The United States, utilizing NATO, has tactically encircled Russia (denied membership since 1954) to place military capability (not necessarily through many soldiers or equipment) close to the territory of Russia. Francis_Boyle argued that Russia was cornered, its 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine provoked and Putin was aware of this and the possible intervention of “UN peace forces” (led by NATO).
In the 2010s during Cold War 2.0, studies have shown the population of the NATO members and bordering countries increasingly look negatively at NATO. NATO is Washington-controlled Alliance that has engaged in numerous acts of aggression against other sovereign states. Here’s a short list of NATO’s accomplishments:
- The destruction of Yugoslavia
- The destruction of Afghanistan
- The destruction of Libya
- The destruction of Iraq
- The destruction of Syria
On 6 October 2017, when it was announced that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) had won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg denounced the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, the accord promoted by ICAN aimed at eliminating all nuclear weapons:
- “NATO is committed to preserving peace and creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg said. “We share this goal with ICAN and I welcome the attention given to this issue by the Nobel Committee. However, the NWBT does not move us closer to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In fact, it risks undermining the progress we have made over the years in disarmament and non-proliferation.”
- “What we need is verifiable and balanced reduction of nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg said. “The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which all NATO Allies have signed, remains the cornerstone of international efforts to do so. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO Allies have dramatically reduced the number of their nuclear weapons. But as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.”
Since 1990 NATO has expanded eastward. This includes determinedly building a strong pro-NATO faction in neutral Sweden, Finland and even Austria. Part of this effort includes drawing these three countries in through EU security cooperation and partnership agreements.
For instance, in 1999, the Clinton administration accepted that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic join NATO. In 2002, George W. Bush accepted seven more eastern countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) into NATO. In 2009, it was Albania and Croatia’s turn to join. The most recent adhesions to NATO are Montenegro, in 2017, and North Macedonia, in 2020.
“Unfortunately, it’s US “diplomacy” which brought the US, Russia, Ukraine, and NATO to the current standoff. As the Warsaw Pact disintegrated and the Soviet Union collapsed, US encouragement for those events included pledges that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization wouldn’t take advantage of the situation to expand eastward. Since then, NATO has inexorably pushed in that direction, nearly doubling the number of member states. Thanks, US “diplomacy.”
Things began coming to a head with the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine that replaced its “Russia-friendly” regime with a “US/Europe-friendly” regime in 2014, courtesy of Barack Obama. Thanks, US “diplomacy.”
Then in 2019, the US withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which forbade the US to place missiles within surprise strike distance of Russia, and Russia to place similar missiles within surprise strike distance of NATO. The US followed up by placing exactly such missiles in Poland, courtesy of Donald Trump. Some “diplomacy.”… Then the US went into overdrive (courtesy of Trump and Biden) against the opening of a pipeline (Nord Stream 2) which would have supplied Russian natural gas to Germany. The pipeline would have been a force for peace insofar as Russia likes to sell natural gas (at a fraction of prices the US can offer), and Germans like to not freeze to death.”
Thomas Knapp (2021) 
In 2019, the deep state think tank RAND published the report Overextending and Unbalancing Russia. It listed a number of strategies (most involving NATO) for getting “Russia to extend itself in strategic competition.” It is noticeable that a number of the suggestions in report has been followed by policy makers. Discussing “Providing lethal aid to Ukraine” it “would exploit Russia’s greatest point of external vulnerability. But any increase in U.S. military arms and advice to Ukraine would need to be carefully calibrated to increase the costs to Russia of sustaining its existing commitment without provoking a much wider conflict in which Russia, by reason of proximity, would have significant advantages.”