NATO expansion has been consistently identified as a likely trigger for Russian political aggression by analysts from across the political spectrum.
However, taking this statement alone, it remains the case that figures from across the political spectrum have consistently acknowledged that the expansion of NATO to include ex-Soviet states would likely be met with severe retaliation by the Russian government.
For instance, although Johnston’s first supporting quote is drawn from Chris Hedges, a self-described socialist, her next few quotes come from John Mearsheimer, who is a renowned figure in the political realist school of thought, and Stephen F. Cohen, an acclaimed scholar of Russian studies who advised the former Republican president George H. W. Bush in the 1980s.
Additionally, footage of the current U.S. President Joe Biden from 1997 has recently resurfaced, in which President Biden remarks that granting NATO membership to Baltic states would likely “tip the balance … in terms of a vigorous and hostile reaction” in Russia.
This is consistent with the Russian government’s own repeated statements that NATO expansion is a fundamental reason for Russian military aggression. In the statement given by President Vladimir Putin on February 21, a day prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO is mentioned 41 times, primarily in the context of its eastward expansion.
It follows that Johnston is likely not ‘cherry-picking’ her sources, and is merely pointing towards the prevailing opinion of political analysts who have insight into the matter at hand.