Bernie Sanders warns against war with Russia

Former Democrat presidential candidate points out US hypocrisy over “spheres of influence”

The West and Russia must “do everything possible” to avoid a war in Ukraine because of the human, economic and climate cost it would bring, former Democrat presidential contender Bernie Sanders warned in an article published by the Guardian on Tuesday.

Sanders is an independent US senator from Vermont who came in second in the Democrats’ presidential nomination races in 2016 and 2020. He currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee.

Outlining the potential costs of the war in Ukraine, Sanders cited estimates of over 50,000 civilian casualties, millions of refugees potentially flooding into Europe, and the prospect of the war expanding to the entire continent.

Sanctions and counter-sanctions imposed in response to the war “could result in massive economic upheaval – with impacts on energy, banking, food and the day-to-day needs of ordinary people throughout the entire world” and not just Russians, Sanders cautioned. They would also deal a “major setback” to hopes of international cooperation on “the existential threat of global climate crisis and future pandemics.”

Wars “have unintended consequences. They rarely turn out the way the experts tell us they will,” Sanders noted, pointing to the recent US experience in Afghanistan.

While Sanders insisted the US “must unequivocally support the sovereignty of Ukraine,” he was “extremely concerned” with the rhetoric in Washington about showing strength and avoiding “appeasement,” which he said gets amplified before every war.

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He blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the current crisis, saying he “seized” parts of Ukraine in 2014 and “now threatens to take over the entire country and destroy Ukrainian democracy.” 

That said, he noted that Russia has “legitimate concerns” about NATO enlargement and that it would be “hypocritical” for the US to reject the concept of “spheres of influence” when Washington considers the entire hemisphere its own under the 200-year-old Monroe Doctrine.

“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?” Sanders wondered.

The senator finished by urging “a realistic and mutually agreeable resolution – one that is acceptable to Ukraine, Russia, the United States and our European allies – and that prevents what could be the worst European war in over 75 years.”

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