‘Putin’s demonization not a policy but an alibi for the absence of one’ – Kissinger

March 7, 2014   ·   0 Comments



Henry Kissinger said he had seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which the parties involved  did not know how to end.The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other – it should function as a bridge between them, the former US State Secretary, Henry Kissinger, says. 

The West must understand that Russian-Ukrainian relations  are a matter of great importance.   The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Russian Black Sea Fleet, Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean, is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, Crimea.

The European Union must admit that its “bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe” contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities and the Ukrainians have to be the decisive element here. They live in a country with an extremely complex history.

Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.

The United States should avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington.

Putin is a serious strategist on the premises of Russian history. Understanding American values and psychology, however,  is not his best skill. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of the current American  policymakers.

Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. 

Kissinger pointed out that Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations.What is more, Ukraine should not join NATO.

If Western leaders do not put their personal ambitions aside, the drift toward confrontation will only accelerate. The time for that will come soon enough.

Voice of Russia, the Washington Post 



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