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Henry Kissinger says Ukraine should give up territory to Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly addresses invading Russian forces during televised remarks, March 14, 2022. (Video screenshot)
May 24, 2022

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called on Ukraine give up some of its territory to Russia in order to bring about an end to the ongoing Russian military invasion.

During a video speech played at the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland on Monday, Kissinger said the U.S. and other western nations should not prolong the fighting in Ukraine in order to force Russia into an increasingly embarrassing defeat, the Washington Post reported. Instead, 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,” Kissinger added, referring to Russia and Ukraine’s territorial holdings before Russia launched its invasion in February. “Pursuing the war beyond that point would turn it into a war not about the freedom of Ukraine, which has been undertaken with great cohesion by NATO, but a new war against Russia itself.”

Kissinger served as a national security advisor and Secretary of State under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. During the Nixon era, Kissinger helped negotiate the end of the Vietnam War. Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, alongside communist Vietnamese politician Lê Đức Thọ, for negotiating the end of the war. Kissinger also advised Nixon to begin normalizing ties between the U.S. and China in the 1970s.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, Russia controlled Crimea and backed the sovereignty claims of two pro-Russian separatist areas of eastern Ukraine known as Luhansk and Donestk. Russian forces were present in Luhansk and Donestk before the invasion and Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered more Russian troops into those areas, under the pretext of a peacekeeping effort, just days before the invasion began. Setting the dividing lines back to where they were before the war would essentially lock in the territorial gains Russia made in Crimea in 2014 and force Ukraine to give up on reasserting control over the separatist parts of eastern Ukraine.

According to Newsweek, Kissinger also said Russia has been an essential part of Europe for the past 400 years, and has acted at critical times to maintain the balance of power in the continent. Kissinger said European countries should be mindful of Russia’s historic role on the continent and  not get swept up “in the mood of the moment.”

According to Newsweek, the Russian side has said it is willing to resume peace talks with Ukraine, but Ukraine has shown it is not interested in reaching a compromise that would entail giving up territory to Russia.

Kissinger similarly advocated Ukraine give up some of its land for peace with Russia in a New York Times op-ed last week.

In reaction to the New York Times op-ed, Mykhailo Podolyak — an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy — tweeted, “Today, any concession to Russia is not a path to peace, but a war postponed for several years. Ukraine trades neither its sovereignty, nor territories and Ukrainians living on them. It’s a pity that we have to explain such simple things to such reputable media as @nytimes.”

During his own video address to the WEF, Zelenskyy said the international community should maintain maximum sanctions against Russia.