On February 28, 2022 the Japanese left-wing populist opposition party Reiwa Shinsengumi led by actor turned politician Yamamoto Taro refused to support a resolution by the Japanese Diet to condemn the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
LDP politician Kono Taro wrote on twitter the next day:
Parliamentary Resolution to denounce the invasion of Ukraine by Russia was passed in the House of Representatives. Surprisingly, the three Reiwa Shinsengumi members voted against the Resolution.
I was curious why they would refuse to join an anti-war resolution and checked their party website.
What I found there was a statement that repeated a Putin talking point, blaming the war on NATO expansion into eastern Europe that supposedly violated a promise made to the Soviet Union not to admit now members from the former Soviet bloc:
(“We don’t want to make the blanket statement that it was Russia’s outburst that created the current catastrophe.
Make a sincere diplomatic effort to end this war, focusing on the fact that the U.S. and major European countries have reneged on their promises made at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union not to expand NATO eastward.”)
(【声明】ロシアによるウクライナ侵略を非難する決議について（れいわ新選組 2022年2月28日）, 2022-02-18)
This Putin talking point that has been repeated by Russian propagandists over and over seeks to repaint the violent assault on a neighbour country as an act of self-defense. It is revisionist history and has been widely discredited as a myth. No such promise was ever made and Russia has not provided any example for its claim.
According to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, there was no such agreement. What did happen was that western powers agreed not to deploy NATO troops other than troops from Germany itself into parts of the former GDR (East Germany). This is a promise that NATO countries have kept to this present day.
Admission of new NATO members was not even talked about in 1990. As sovereign nations, it is the right of former Warsaw pact states to apply for NATO membership just as it is the right of NATO members to accept or reject their applications to this mutual defense treaty. After the annexation of Crimea and support for a separatist war in eastern Ukraine by Russia it is now quite clear why eastern European countries have been seeking safety in numbers by wanting to join NATO.
Putin justifying his invasion of Ukraine by its desire to join NATO to keep him off is like a guy justifying the rape of a woman by her calling the police last time he beat her.
Frankly, I don’t expect anything better of Vladimir Putin who is more akin to a mobster than a regular politician but I am disappointed by Reiwa Shinsengumi whom somehow I had expected to be on the side of democracy and human rights and not a right-wing dictator.