Ukraine: Former US defence secretary outlines Russia's failures
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The former US secretary of state told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the war in Ukraine must not be allowed to carry on for much longer, adding that the continuation of the conflict could lead to “Cold War-like diplomatic distances”. The veteran statesman urged the West not to forget Russia’s place in the European balance of power.
Dr Kissinger said: “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months…before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.
“Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would turn it into a war not be about the freedom of Ukraine…but a new war against Russia itself.”
The former US statesman and architect of the Cold War rapprochement between the US and China told the gathering in Davos, Switzerland, that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had at times been the guarantor of the European balance of power at critical moments.
He urged European leaders not to lose sight of Russia’s place in Europe or risk pushing the country into a permanent alliance with China.
He said: “Parties should be brought to peace talks within the next two months. Ukraine should’ve been a bridge between Europe and Russia, but now, as the relationships are reshaped, we may enter a space where the dividing line is redrawn and Russia is entirely isolated.
“We are facing a situation now where Russia could alienate itself completely from Europe and seek a permanent alliance elsewhere. This may lead to Cold War-like diplomatic distances, which will set us back decades. We should strive for long-term peace.”
He said “I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom” in peace negotiations with Russia, hinting that the country should strive for peace on terms that fall far short of its current war aims.
Dr Kissinger’s comments came soon after Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said the war can only be resolved through diplomacy despite negotiations currently being suspended.
Speaking in an interview with a Ukrainian television channel on Saturday, May 21, President Zelensky said: “Discussions between Ukraine and Russia will undoubtedly take place.
“Under what format I don’t know – with intermediaries, without them, in a broader group, at the presidential level. But the war will be bloody, there will be fighting and will only definitively end through diplomacy.”
He added: “There are things that can only be reached at the negotiating table. We want everything to return [to as it was before] but Russia does not want that.”
According to Russian news agencies, the last talks between the two sides took place on April 22.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov accused Ukraine of not wanting to continue talks to end the fighting.
President Zelensky said last month that Ukraine is not willing to give up territory in the eastern part of the country to end the war with Russia.
In an interview with CNN on April 18, he said that his country had no guarantee that Russia would not attempt to seize the capital Kyiv again if it proved unable to capture the Donbas region.
He said: “This is why it is very important for us to not allow them, to stand our ground, because this battle … it can influence the course of the whole war.”
President Zelensky said he was prepared to engage with Russia diplomatically to try to end the war but that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainians made it harder to pursue negotiations.
He said: “As I said before, what’s the price of all this? It’s people. The many people who have been killed. And who ends up paying for all of this? It’s Ukraine. Just us.”
“So for us, this is a really great cost. If there is an opportunity to speak, we’ll speak. But to speak only under a Russian ultimatum? It’s then a question about attitude towards us, not about whether the dialogue is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It’s impossible.”
Dr Kissinger’s comments to the forum in Davos came amid growing signs that the West’s response to President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
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Speaking to the World Economic Forum, German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck accused Hungary and other states of paralysing the EU’s attempts to bring in a ban on Russia oil imports.
He said: “We’re seeing the worst of Europe,” adding that Germany is more or less ready to endure the impact of an oil embargo while others want to ignore Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He added: “I expect everyone to work to find a solution, and not to sit back and work on building their partnership with Putin.”
In a video address to the forum, Ukraine’s President Zelensky said he worried that momentum and unity behind Ukraine was waning.
He urged the gathering “not to lose this feeling of unity”, adding: “This punch is what the leadership of the Russian Federation feels the most.”
He said: “I wish every one of you wakes up in the morning with this on their mind: ‘What have I done for Ukraine today?’”
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