The following is list of mostly academic papers which provides excellent background material for the current conflict in Ukraine. At least two of the papers are authored by U.S. military officers who sound much more reasonable than much of what we hear from Washington and within the corporate press.
Some of the articles are linked, the others are easily accessible online:
Menon, Rajan; and Ruger, William; “NATO enlargement and US grand strategy: a net assessment”, (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7212247/
Zevelev, Igor; Rajan. NATO’s Enlargement and Russian Perceptions of Eurasian Political Frontiers”
Marten, Kimberly; “Reconsidering NATO expansion: a counterfactual analysis of Russia and the West in the 1990s. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/european-journal-of-international-security/article/reconsidering-nato-expansion-a-counterfactual-analysis-of-russia-and-the-west-in-the-1990s/356448EA9D5C63C53BE1EC6B33FE470A
Milano, James M., Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army, “NATO ENLARGEMENT FROM THE RUSSIAN PERSPECTIVE”, 1998. (available online)
Granville, Johanna, “After Kosovo: The Impact of NATO Expansion on Russian Political Parties” (available online).
Cheterian, Vicken, “The August 2008 war in Georgia: From ethnic conflict to border wars” (2009). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248962068_The_August_2008_war_in_Georgia_From_ethnic_conflict_to_border_wars
Cherkasova, Anna, “War Initiation by Weaker Powers: Georgia-Russia War 2008”, (2010).
“The New Russian Nationalism”, an anthology edited by Kolsto, Pal and Blakkisrud, Helge. This series of essays helps explain Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in light of the Nation’s strong nationalist sentiments. https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/30059
Kushnir, Ostap, “Messianic Narrations in Contemporary Russian Statecraft and Foreign “, (2019). Great paper on the Russian Messianic tradition and its impact on foreign relations. https://www.cejiss.org/messianic-narrations-in-contemporary-russian-statecraft-and-foreign-policy
Davydov, Yurij, NATO Research Fellow; “Should Russia Join NATO?” (Final Report) 1998/2000.
Brovkin, Vladimir; “Discourse on NATO in Russia during the Kosovo War”.
HAFKIN, GREGORY, “THE RUSSO-GEORGIAN WAR OF 2008: DEVELOPING THE LAW OF UNAUTHORIZED HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION AFTER KOSOVO”, (2007).
Tsygankov, Andrei P., “The Russia-NATO mistrust: Ethnophobia and the double expansion to contain “the Russian Bear” (2013).
Sarotte, M.E., “How to Enlarge NATO: The Debate inside the Clinton
Administration”, 1993–95. https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/how-enlarge-nato-debate-inside-clinton-administration-1993-95
Hendrickson, Gordon B., Major, USAF, “NATO ENLARGEMENT—ROUND TWO[:] PRUDENCE OR FOLLY?”, (1999).
ÖZKAN, OLESYA, “THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE NATO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS FROM YELTSIN TO PUTIN-MEDVEDEV LEADERSHIP BETWEEN 1991 AND 2009”, (2010). (Excellent paper, very detailed)
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s speech, and following discussion, at the 2007 Munich Security Conference–a pivotal moment in Western-Russian relations. http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/transcripts/24034
Taylor, Jeffrey, “Deterring Russian Nuclear Threats with Low-Yield Nukes May Encourage Limited Nuclear War” https://muse.jhu.edu/article/851414
Antczak, Anna; “RUSSIA’S STRATEGIC CULTURE:
PRISONER OF IMPERIAL HISTORY?”
Sinovets, Polina; “From Stalin to Putin: Russian Strategic Culture in the XXI Century, Its Continuity, and Change” (2016).
Rumor, Eugene and Sokolsky, Richard; “Etched in Stone: Russian
Strategic Culture and the Future of Transatlantic Security”; Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; (2020).
Katchanovski, Ivan; “The Far Right in Ukraine During the “Euromaidan” and the War in Donbas”, (2016). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280114848_The_Far_Right_in_Ukraine_During_the_Euromaidan_and_Beyond
Zevelev, Igor, “NATO’s Enlargement and Russian Perceptions of Eurasian Political Frontiers”. (The last third of this paper is particularly worth reading).
Zaborsky, Victor; “Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet in Russian- Ukrainian Relations” (1995). https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/crimea-and-black-sea-fleet-russian-ukrainian-relations
Saluschev, Sergey, UC Santa Barbara; “Annexation of Crimea: Causes, Analysis and Global Implications” (2014). http://escholarship.org/uc/item/5vb3n9tc
Suslov, Dmitry, “the Russian Perception of the Post-Cold War era and Relations with the West”
Harriman Institute, Columbia University. Lecture, November 9, 2016. https://drive.google.com/file/d/11qnTzEpPF4u0XJ7s3Tcg2if0iM0T3Tm9/view?usp=drivesdk
Saluschev, Sergey, UC Santa Barbara; “Annexation of Crimea: Causes, Analysis and Global Implications”, Global Societies Journal, 2014. This brief eleven page paper does an excellent job of providing a deeper understanding of Russia’s attachment to the Crimean peninsula.
Mizrokhi, Elena, “Russian ‘separatism’ in Crimea and NATO:
Ukraine’s big hope, Russia’s grand gamble”, 2009