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Russia needs opportunity to rejoin an international system, Kissinger says

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger attends a luncheon at the US State Department in Washington, DC, on December 1, 2022.

Roberto Schmidt | Afp | Getty Images

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Tuesday said Russia must be given the opportunity to one day rejoin the international system following any peace deal in Ukraine and dialogue with the country must be ongoing.

“This may seem very hollow to nations that have been under Russian pressure for much of the Cold War period,” Kissinger told the World Economic Forum in Davos via video link.

However, he said it was important to avoid an escalation of conflict between Russia and the West as a result of it feeling the war had become “against Russia itself.”

This, he said “may cause Russia to re-evaluate its historic position, which was an amalgam of an attraction to the culture of Europe and a fear of domination by Europe.”

“The destruction of Russia as a state that can pursue its own policies will open up the vast area of ​​its eleven time zones to internal conflict and to outside intervention at the time when there are 15,000 and more nuclear weapons on its territory.”

“So this is why I believe in dialogue with Russia while the war continues, an end of fighting when the pre-war line is reached, and a continuing process of discussion by Europe, America and at that point Russia … while the conditions of sanctions and other pressures will be maintained until a final settlement is reached.”

“I believe this is the way to prevent the war from escalating,” he said.

Kissinger was criticized by a Ukrainian politician in May when he suggested Ukraine should cede some land to Russia to achieve a peace deal.

Kissinger further said on Tuesday that the US should continue to provide military support and if necessary intensify that support until a cease-fire line is reached or accepted in preliminary discussions.

He also said he wanted to express admiration for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the “heroic conduct of the Ukrainian people;” and that he now believed Ukrainian membership of NATO one day would be an “appropriate outcome.”

Kissinger was secretary of state between 1973 and 1977 under presidents Nixon and Ford, and served as national security advisor between 1969 and 1975. He was a key part of the US détente with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with China, and oversaw hugely controversial decisions including bombing and military operations in Cambodia.

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