Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has again come out in favor of negotiations to end the war in Ukraine in an article for The Spectator titled “How to Avoid Another World War.”
Kissinger said that he “repeatedly expressed my support for the allied military effort to thwart Russia’s aggression in Ukraine” but that he thought there was room for negotiations.
“The time is approaching to build on the strategic changes which have already been accomplished and to integrate them into a new structure towards achieving peace through negotiation,” he wrote.
Kissinger angered Kyiv and hawks in Washington back in May when he suggested Ukraine should cede Crimea and territory the Donbas separatists controlled before the February 24 invasion to achieve peace. In his essay, Kissinger suggested a similar idea, although he said Ukraine could no longer be neutral and must be aligned with NATO.
“Ukraine has acquired one of the largest and most effective land armies in Europe, equipped by America and its allies. A peace process should link Ukraine to NATO, however expressed. The alternative of neutrality is no longer meaningful, especially after Finland and Sweden joined NATO,” Kissinger said.
The former secretary of state suggested referendums could be held to settle disputes over some of the territory Russia has captured from Ukraine. “If the pre-war dividing line between Ukraine and Russia cannot be achieved by combat or by negotiation, recourse to the principle of self-determination could be explored. Internationally supervised referendums concerning self-determination could be applied to particularly divisive territories which have changed hands repeatedly over the centuries,” he wrote.
Kissinger said the goal of peace in Ukraine should be to secure Kyiv’s “freedom” and to “define a new international structure” that Russia could eventually join. He said he disagrees with the idea that Russia should be “rendered impotent by the war,” a common view among hawks in Washington.
“For all its propensity to violence, Russia has made decisive contributions to the global equilibrium and to the balance of power for over half a millennium. Its historical role should not be degraded,” Kissinger wrote.
Ukrainian officials insist they can defeat Russia, but Kissinger recognized that even if Moscow’s conventional capabilities are weakened, it still has a vast nuclear arsenal. “Russia’s military setbacks have not eliminated its global nuclear reach, enabling it to threaten escalation in Ukraine,” he said.
While Kissinger is known as a hawk due to his infamous role in leading the secret US bombing of Cambodia as President Nixon’s national security advisor, he has long called for a more friendly posture toward Russia since the end of the Cold War. In 2014, shortly after the US-backed ousting of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, Kissinger warned that if Ukraine were to “survive and thrive,” it must function as a “bridge” between Russia and the West.
Kissinger’s new call for peace in Ukraine comes as the prospects of negotiations to end the fighting are bleak. Ukrainian officials still maintain that their goal is to drive Russia out of all the areas it has captured in Ukraine as well as Crimea, while Russia insists it is not leaving the territories it has annexed. The US and NATO are also making plans to support Ukraine’s military for years to come.