Ukrainian soldiers in the city of Severodonetsk, Donbass Ukrainian soldiers in the city of Severodonetsk, Donbass 

Ukraine: Henry Kissinger urges leaders to strive for peace

Former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, says it is crucial for international stability that Ukraine negotiate with Russia “before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.”

By Linda Bordoni

Speaking on Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shared his concerns about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and expressed his opinion that the conflict could reshape the world as we know it.

In a conversation with Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum's founder and executive director, 89-year-old Kissinger, known for his reputation as a pragmatist during the Cold War, warned that Russia could alienate itself completely from Europe and seek a permanent alliance elsewhere.

"Parties should be brought to peace talks within the next two months,” he said.

“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.”

The American former diplomat who steered US foreign policy in the 1960s and ‘70s, advocated the policy of détente and sought to reduce tensions with the then-USSR as well as orchestrating US diplomatic relations with China.

Speaking at a time in which the Russian offensive continues to intensify mostly in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas territory, Kissinger said he believes Ukraine should give up territory in order to end the war with Russia.

'Status quo ante'

“Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the 'status quo ante'.”

Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine but a new war against Russia itself.

The United States and its European allies, he continued, should not get lost “in the mood of the moment.”

Kissinger’s invitation to return “to the status quo ante" would mean that Ukraine should agree to a deal that would restore the situation as it was on 24 February when Russia began its invasion. Such an agreement would result in Russia maintaining its control of the Crimean Peninsula and its informal control of parts of the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian leaders have long opposed the idea of giving up any territory in a deal to end the war.

“I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom,” the statesman said.

US diplomacy must strive for peace

In speaking about the rise of China, Kissinger reflected on his experience in negotiating with Beijing.

"When we began diplomatic relationships with China in the 1970s, we did it with a sense of starting a permanent relationship,” he said, noting that back then China was a very different country.

“Today, it is a powerhouse with significant economic and strategic interests. How the US and China conduct their relationship in coming years will depend on the patience and diplomacy of its leaders," he explained.

Kissinger noted that the potentially conflictual aspect of the US-China relationship should be mitigated and common interests should be pursued and upheld.

"The US," he added, "must realize that China's strategic and technical competence has evolved. Diplomatic negotiations must be sensitive, informed and unilaterally strive for peace."

New military technologies

Henry Kissinger did not neglect to note the evolution of technology, saying "We are faced with the reality that modern technologies are putting countries in situations that they've never been in before."

“Nuclear powers and new military technologies, without established criteria for limitations, could spell catastrophe for humankind.”

26 May 2022, 10:22