As Russian President Vladimir Putin responded Wednesday to NATO provocations along his nation\u0026#039;s western frontier by warning that his country reserves the right to defend itself, peace advocates stressed the need for U.S. self-awareness and restraint in order to avoid a \u0022new Cold War.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We can see Russia as a partner rather than an adversary in Eastern Europe.\u0022\r\n\r\nFollowing U.S. vows to \u0022stand up for Ukraine\u0022—including by sending combat troops and sanctioning Moscow—in the event of Russian aggression, Putin said during a press conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that \u0022Russia has a peaceful foreign policy, but has the right to defend its security,\u0022 according to Agence France-Presse.\r\n\r\nThe remarks were Putin\u0026#039;s first in public since he and U.S. President Joe Biden met during a two-hour virtual summit on Tuesday. U.S. leaders are alarmed by Russia\u0026#039;s concentration of troops within striking distance of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow separatists have been fighting government forces since 2014.\r\n\r\nPutin is seeking a guarantee that NATO will not expand further eastward, as it has done nine times since 1999. He called NATO enlargement a \u0022very sensitive\u0022 issue for his country and \u0022one of the key questions in preserving Russia\u0026#039;s security,\u0022 while citing the Biden administration\u0026#039;s \u0022open door\u0022 policy of potential membership for Ukraine and Georgia—both of which border Russia and were former Soviet republics—as cause for alarm.\u0026nbsp;\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022We cannot but be concerned about the prospect of Ukraine\u0026#039;s possible admission to NATO,\u0022 Putin said, \u0022because this will undoubtedly be followed by the deployment of appropriate military contingents, bases, and weapons that threaten us.\u0022\r\n\r\nRussian troops invaded Georgia—home to pro-Moscow separatist enclaves—in 2008, and Ukraine\u0026#039;s Crimean Peninsula, which Russia subsequently annexed with the support of a majority of the local population, in 2014. Crimea was previously part of Russia from 1783 to 1954.\r\n\r\nBiden followed Putin\u0026#039;s remarks by saying that \u0022the idea that the United States is going to unilaterally use force to confront Russia invading Ukraine is not... in the cards right now,\u0022 according to Defense One.\r\n\r\nAppearing on Democracy Now! Wednesday, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editorial director and publisher of The Nation, said that \u0022this escalation is not new.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022We have a one-sided narrative in this country, which is a problem because we haven\u0026#039;t followed the growing mass of NATO troops on... Russia\u0026#039;s border,\u0022 she explained. \u0022The escalation is neither in the United States\u0026#039; national interest nor security interest at a time when politics, [a] political solution, [a] diplomatic solution, is the only way forward.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022History matters,\u0022 vanden Heuvel asserted. \u0022In 1990, Gorbachev presided over the reunification of Germany and [then-U.S. Secretary of State] James Baker promised... NATO would not expand one inch eastward. That promise, which is documented in the National Security Archive, in [former Secretary of State] Condi Rice\u0026#039;s book, in other materials, was violated. I think that is the original sin of what we witnessed today.\u0022\r\n\r\nNATO—formed in 1949 as a mutual defense pact against the Soviet Union—has long been condemned as a provocative anachronism in the post-Cold War era, with many critics arguing that the trans-Atlantic alliance should be dissolved.\r\n\r\nInstead, NATO has steadily expanded eastward and currently counts 10 former Soviet or Warsaw Pact nations as members. NATO\u0026#039;s eastern boundary is now less than 100 miles from St. Petersburg, Russia\u0026#039;s second-largest city.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nWriting for Responsible Statecraft Tuesday, Worcester State University professor Joseph Preston Baratta urged U.S. leaders to \u0022recognize our own provocations and aggressions\u0022 and to \u0022make an effort to understand Russia.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022We can see Russia as a partner rather than an adversary in Eastern Europe,\u0022 he said. \u0022We can ask for a \u0026#039;generous act\u0026#039; on the part of European leaders, like bringing Russia back into the Group of Eight, rather than continuing to hurt her people by sanctions.\u0022\r\n\r\nWhen Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman mentioned the House of Representatives\u0026#039; approval Tuesday of a $778 billion U.S. military budget—more than the next 10 countries combined—vanden Heuvel called the development \u0022such a tragedy.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022We have seen a revival of this national security strategy where we have made Russia and China the grave enemies,\u0022 she said. \u0022They are not going to be friends but mutual interests demand a working partnership.\u0022\r\n\r\nVanden Heuvel stressed that the U.S. \u0022must wake up and understand... that we need to sort out a relationship with Russia.\u0022\r\n\r\nShe said that means recognizing that policies and actions like Biden\u0026#039;s Summit for Democracy—which is taking place this week and has angered Beijing and Moscow—are provocations that have \u0022a kind of Cold War feel.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022But the one-sided coverage, and it is not even commentary, in the U.S. media about U.S.-Russia, is I think debilitating and dangerous for our security and thinking,\u0022 vanden Heuvel added.