In their internal documents, the Pentagon and other arms of the US national security state reiterate the same arguments the anti-war left does when it explains how Ukraine has been used to provoke Russia into a military escalation. The principal difference is that the Pentagon speaks from an unabashedly imperialist perspective in which such provocations are seen as an important component of US power projection.
Recently, the US Director of National Intelligence’s Annual Threat Assessment reported: “Russia is pushing back against Washington where it can—locally and globally—employing techniques up to and including the use of force.” Note: Russia is “pushing back,” not pushing first.
A report from 2021 by the National Intelligence Council concedes of Russia and China: “Neither has felt secure in an international order designed for and dominated by democratic powers,” with “democratic” meaning the US and friends. Both Russia and China “have promoted a sovereignty-based international order that protects their absolute authority within their borders and geographic areas of influence.”