Several causal elements of the war were formed in the 1990s, including Russia’s economic–political developments and Europe’s post-Cold War security arrangements. Any starting point is arbitrary. Our choice is based on the hypothesis that after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the USSR, diverse paths were to an extent open. It is important to be sufficiently specific about the relevant causal powers, mechanisms, and processes. TF focusses on (1) the development of the European security order and the role of NATO expansion; (2) the failure of democratisation in Russia; and (3) Vladimir Putin as a person and leader. HP addresses these as well, while stressing the role of political economy, especially the disastrous effects of the shock therapy. Some of our differences are related to NATO expansion, but the discussion also moves on to deeper levels of social theory. A key theoretical question is whether state actors have ahistorical essences or whether the character of state actors is determined only or mainly by internal factors and processes. TF responds to HP’s methodologically globalist critique by remarking that, “putting emphasis on the internal factors does not deny the potential or limited role of external factors and interaction”.