24 May 2022 – Henry Kissinger said Ukraine must concede territory to Russia to end the war and warned the West that a humiliating defeat for Russia could result in wider destabilization.
The statesman, now 98, made the comments in a conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Kissinger was the architect of the détente with China under the Nixon administration, and he’s one of the world’s foremost advocates of realpolitik, in which nations put morals and principles aside to achieve their aims.
“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 said.
“Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself,” he added.
“Status quo ante” means “how things were before.” Kissinger’s comments imply that Ukraine should accept a peace deal to restore the situation to what it was before February 24, where Russia formally controlled the Crimea peninsula and informally controlled part of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have opposed the idea that they should give up any territory.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine would only accept Russia giving up all claims to land in Ukraine and staging a total withdrawal.
Kissinger’s comments echo a New York Times editorial last week, which argued that Ukraine should accept that it would have to make territorial concessions for a peace deal.
The article prompted a rebuttal from Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Zelenskyy who was involved in the initial peace talks with Russia, which failed to produce any results.
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. pic.twitter.com/NJdLm7fWOV
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) May 21, 2022
In a post on Tuesday he mentioned that this idea was being discussed at Davos, though he did not specify where or name Kissinger.
There is a talk on @wef sidelines, whether it is time for a ceasefire, to agree with the Kremlin and return to business with 🇷🇺. A new blindness virus? 🇺🇦 does not trade its sovereignty for someone to fill their wallet. The shortest way to end the war – weapons, money, embargo.
— Михайло Подоляк (@Podolyak_M) May 24, 2022
Kissinger in his remarks said that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years, helping balance the power structure at crucial times, The Telegraph reported.
He argued that the West should not risk pushing Russia into closer alliance with China.
“I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom,” he said, adding that Ukraine’s proper place was as a neutral buffer state, rather than a fully integrated part of Europe.
In recent months, cracks have been showing in the Western alliance against Russia’s aggression, with isolationist Republican lawmakers in the US opposing a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine, and Hungary stymieing European Union attempts to blockade Russian oil. As inflation creeps up, public opposition to the war may also increase.
Tom Porter is a reporter at Business Insider’s London bureau. Previously, he worked at Newsweek and IBTimes UK.