Kiev has a large amount of Western-supplied arms and the least experienced leadership in Europe, the veteran US politician warns
Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger has signalled a U-turn in his views on Ukraine’s prospective NATO membership. The veteran politician told The Economist that he now believes peace in Europe cannot be achieved without Ukraine joining the US-led military bloc.
Last fall, Kissinger insisted that “it was not a wise American policy to attempt to include Ukraine into NATO.” He said the bloc’s eastward expansion since the fall of Soviet Union in 1991 had essentially removed Russia’s historic “safety belt,” but insisted that was no justification for Russia’s “surprise attack” on Ukraine.
However, in his interview on Wednesday with the British outlet, the politician, who turns 100 on May 27, suggested that “for the safety of Europe, it is better to have Ukraine in NATO.”
He acknowledged that he currently finds himself “in the weird position that people say, ‘Look at him, he’s changed his mind. Now he’s for membership of Ukraine in NATO.’”
The reason for such shift is “twofold,” Kissinger said. “One, Russia is no longer the conventional threat it used to be. And, secondly, we have now armed Ukraine to a point where it will be the best-armed, most modern country and with the least experienced leadership in Europe,” he explained.
According to the former US Secretary of State, the position taken by European countries towards Kiev’s membership is “madly dangerous.”
“The Europeans are saying we don’t want them in NATO because they’re too risky and therefore we’ll arm the hell out of them and give them the most advanced weapons. How can that possibly work?” he asked.
Back in 2008, NATO declared that Kiev would join the bloc, but did not specify a date for that to happen. “The decision to leave open the membership of Ukraine in NATO was very wrong, and unwise,” Kissinger said.
The possibility of Ukraine, which the Russians consider “the little brother closest to them organically, or historically,” being accepted into the US-led alliance became “a final turning point” for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin when he decided to send troops to the neighboring country in February 2022, he explained.
Last month, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius suggested that “this is not the time to decide” about Ukraine’s place in NATO. He was backed by Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda, who said it “would be too difficult” to make Kiev a member of the bloc while the conflict with Moscow continues.
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Russia, which sees NATO’s eastward expansion as a major security threat, had singled out Kiev’s push to join the bloc as among the main reasons for launching its military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago.