The veteran US diplomat has clarified his shift of rhetoric on Kiev joining the US-led military bloc
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has explained how his views on prospective NATO membership for Ukraine changed between 2008, when the bloc first acknowledged Kiev's "aspirations" to join, and today, after the stream of Western military aid transformed it into the "best-armed country" in the region.
"I'm in the ironical position that I was alone when I opposed membership, and I'm nearly alone when I advocate NATO membership," the veteran politician told a Wall Street Journal contributor in an interview recorded days before his 100th birthday.
"I think the offer to put Ukraine into NATO was a grave mistake and led to this war," he explained, yet claimed that the scale of the conflict, and "its nature, is a Russian peculiarity, and we were absolutely right to resist it."
But after Washington and its allies turned Ukraine into the "best-armed country in Europe," it clearly belongs to the US-led military bloc, the former official stated, reiterating his firm belief that peace in Europe cannot be achieved without Ukraine in NATO.
Back in 2008, NATO declared that Kiev would join the bloc, but did not specify when that might happen. Russia, which sees the bloc's eastward expansion as a major security threat, had singled out Kiev's growing push to join NATO as among the main reasons for launching its military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago.
Kissinger drew the ire of Kiev last year when he suggested that Ukraine should accept a return to the "status quo ante," or relinquish its territorial claims to Crimea and grant autonomy to the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, in the name of peace. In an interview with the WSJ he went as far as to claim that "the Ukraine war is won," but said any peace terms are unlikely to include Crimea.
"For Russia, the loss of Sevastopol, which was always not Ukrainian in history, would be such a comedown that the cohesion of the state would be in danger. And I think that's not desirable for the world after Ukraine," he said.
The US-led bloc is already waging a proxy war against Russia, and Kissinger, despite his vast experience, is "totally wrong" to suggest that Ukrainian membership in NATO would guarantee peace, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this month.
Medvedev, who currently serves as deputy head of Russia's Security Council, said that until the "Ukrainian nationalist regime" is dismantled it "won't give up on attempts to regain lost territories." He argued that Moscow "would have to reply harshly with all available means," which would likely trigger NATO's Article 5 collective security provision and help to kick off a wider conflict.