Yet when Russia takes action to stop this encroachment it is branded an aggressor. It is all part of a newly emerging Cold War.
Vladimir Putin may be an autocratic President at the head of a regime of corrupt oligarchs and therefore someone the West should be happy to deal with but his pursuit of Russian national interests is seen as undermining strategic western interests.
How they must long for the days of the alcoholic and mentally unstable Boris Yeltsin always happy to do a deal with his western sponsors.
This new Cold War is being actively promoted by the United States keen to build up its extensive military presence in the region in particular through its support for a range of corrupt and despotic dictatorships in former Soviet republics. It is also being driven by a rapacious arms industry always looking for new contracts and markets.
Much has been made of Russian intervention in Ukraine; in the mostly Russian east of the country. Yet look at the facts. It is estimated that more than 6000 people have been killed. Almost all are ethnic Russians killed by Ukrainian forces.
A third of a million people have fled to refugee camps along the Russian border. Almost all are ethnic Russians fleeing Ukrainian attacks. In fact the main complaint by these people is not intervention by Moscow but the lack of such intervention.
There needs to be a negotiated political settlement within Ukraine and between Ukraine and Russia. This settlement must be based on recognition of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the rights of minorities within Ukraine and Russia’s strategic interests in the region.
Western interference in this area to date has consistently undermined this process; encouraged Ukrainian reactionary forces and threatened Russia’s national interests. Proposing that Ukraine join Nato would be viewed in Moscow almost as a declaration of war.
Joining would mean the establishment of American military bases on Russia’s western border with nuclear missiles and would be seen as a direct threat to Russian national security. It would be the equivalent of Russia establishing a military base on the Mexican-American border with missiles pointed at Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The failure to comprehend Russia’s security concerns was highlighted in a recent House of Lords report. Defending its borders from potential attacks is the central factor governing Russian foreign policy and is rooted in its modern history.
In the months after the Russian Revolution the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with the German Government ending Russia’s involvement in World War One.
Germany imposed a harsh settlement annexing huge areas of territory. During the Russian Civil War between 1918 and 1921 the country was invaded by the armies of fourteen different countries supporting the counter revolution and with an eye to acquiring Russian lands.
During the Second War the country was again invaded by Germany. Twenty million Russians died and almost the entire country devastated. This last invasion is burned into the collective folk memory of modern Russians particularly when they look at events in Ukraine.
During the German occupation many Ukrainians sided with the Nazi’s and it was from its advanced positions in Ukraine that Germany was able to launch a wider offensive against the rest of the country.
This is certainly not the situation today although pictures of Ukrainian militias sporting Nazi regalia don’t help the Ukrainian cause.
Nato, an aggressive instrument during the Cold War, has been expanding since the end of the Soviet Union. Driven by American imperialism and by the huge American arms industry it is constantly on the lookout for its next war.
Having destroyed Iraq and Libya it has been actively building its presence in North Africa and the Middle East with the establishment of permanent military bases to ensure American hegemony in the region.
In Latin America its equivalent has been consistently expanded particularly under the Obama Administration ready to intervene against progressive governments and roll back the tide of history on that continent.
Since its establishment in 1949 it has been an instrument of war and aggression; the military wing of global capitalism. When Scotland finally wins independence, one of the first items on the agenda will be the withdrawal from Nato. If an independent Scotland is to play a progressive role in world affairs it cannot be as a member of this nuclear club.