The statesman believes the country should now join NATO
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger argued on Tuesday that Ukrainian membership of NATO would be “appropriate” after peace has been secured.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum via Zoom, the 99-year-old said that although he was against Ukraine joining NATO before the invasion, it was now a desired outcome. “Before this war I was opposed to the membership of Ukraine in NATO because I feared it would start exactly the process we are seeing now,” he said. But now, “the idea of a neutral Ukraine in these conditions is no longer meaningful.”
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Ukrainian neutrality was a key demand by Russia during the negotiations that took place in March last year. The 15-point draft included Kyiv renouncing its ambitions to join NATO and agreeing not to host foreign military bases or weaponry in exchange for protection from allies such as the US, UK and Turkey.
The negotiations broke down, with both sides’ positions hardening shortly after. The Kremlin now says Kyiv must acknowledge Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s four southern and eastern regions. Meanwhile, Kyiv demands that every Russian soldier must leave its territory, including Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Kyiv applied to join NATO after Moscow announced the later annexations in September.
That this proposal has come from Kissinger, an ardent realist and long-time critic of Ukraine joining NATO, is significant. In September he told the Council on Foreign Relations that such a move would be “not wise” because it would lead to further escalation in the conflict. Last month, he called for a cease-fire under which Russia would withdraw to the front lines demarcated before the February invasion, but Crimea would be the subject of “negotiation.” He alluded to NATO membership for Ukraine, saying the two should be “linked”, but his comments today were the most explicit yet. Full quote below: