20 August 2015
Former U.S. Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger
Jason Lee / Reuters
Former US Secretary of State
Henry Kissinger has hit out at
American and European Ukraine policy, saying it ignores Russia's
relationship with its neighbor, and has called for cooperation
between the White House and the Kremlin on the issue.
"Breaking Russia has become an
objective [for US officials] the long-range purpose should be to
integrate it," the 92-year-old told The National Interest
in a lengthy interview for the
policy magazine's anniversary that touched on most of the
world's most pertinent international issues.
"If we treat Russia seriously as a
great power, we need at an early stage to determine whether
their concerns can be reconciled with our necessities."
The diplomat, who is most famous for
serving in the Nixon administration, and controversially being
awarded the 1973 Nobel 'Peace' Prize, for negotiating the
Vietnam ceasefire, accused the West of failing to recognize the
historical context in which the fallout occurred between Moscow and
"The relationship between Ukraine
and Russia will always have a special character in the Russian
It can never be limited to a
relationship of two traditional sovereign states, not from the
Russian point of view, maybe not even from Ukraine's. So, what
happens in Ukraine cannot be put into a simple formula of
applying principles that worked in Western Europe."
Kissinger lays the blame for sparking
the conflict at the door of the EU, which proposed a trade deal in
2013, without considering how it would alienate Moscow, and
the Ukrainian people.
"The first mistake was the
conduct of the European Union. They did not
understand the implications of some of their own conditions.
Ukrainian domestic politics made it
look impossible for [former Ukrainian president Viktor]
Yanukovych to accept the EU terms and be reelected or for Russia
to view them as purely economic," said Kissinger.
Viktor Yanukovich rejected the deal
in November 2013,
the EU "panicked", Russia became "overconfident,"
the US remained "passive" as "each side acted sort of rationally
based on its misconception of the other" and "no significant
For Kissinger, the wheels of the stand-off between Moscow and the
West were already set in motion during the subsequent
Maidan street protests - heartily
endorsed by the West - which demanded the toppling of the
pro-Russian Yanukovich, an aim that was eventually achieved.
"While Ukraine slid into the Maidan
uprising right in the middle of what Putin had spent ten years
building as a recognition of Russia's status.
No doubt in Moscow this looked as if
the West was exploiting what had been conceived as a Russian
festival to move Ukraine out of the Russian orbit."
With the armed conflict in Ukraine still
showing no signs of resolution, Kissinger repeated his previous
proposal for Ukraine to become a buffer, or mediator state between
Russia and the West.
"We should explore the possibilities
of a status of nonmilitary grouping on the territory between
Russia and the existing frontiers of NATO," he told The National
"The West hesitates to take on the
economic recovery of Greece; it's surely not going to take on
Ukraine as a unilateral project. So one should at least examine
the possibility of some cooperation between the West and Russia
in a militarily nonaligned Ukraine."
While Kissinger insists that he believes
that Ukraine's territorial integrity, including
Crimea, which joined
Russia last year, should have remained unaffected, he called for the
West to stop backing Kiev at all costs, even as the victims of the
conflict pile up.
"The Ukraine crisis is turning into
a tragedy because it is confusing the long-range interests of
global order with the immediate need of restoring Ukrainian
identity," summed up the veteran diplomat.