“How the Ukraine crisis ends!”
February 24, 2022

By Henry Kissinger

PUBLIC dialogue on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we all know the place we’re going?

In my life, I’ve seen 4 wars begun with nice enthusiasm and public assist, all of which we didn’t know easy methods to finish and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally.

The check of coverage is the way it ends, not the way it begins.

Far too typically the Ukrainian challenge is posed as a showdown: whether or not Ukraine joins the East or the West.

But if Ukraine is to outlive and thrive, it should not be both facet’s outpost towards the opposite, it ought to perform as a bridge between them.


Russia should settle for that to attempt to pressure Ukraine right into a satellite tv for pc standing, and thereby transfer Russia’s borders once more, would doom Moscow to repeat its historical past of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.

The West should perceive that, to Russia, Ukraine can by no means be only a international nation. Russian historical past started in what was referred to as Kievan-Rus.

The Russian faith unfold from there. Ukraine has been a part of Russia for hundreds of years, and their histories have been intertwined earlier than then.

Some of a very powerful battles for Russian freedom, beginning with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, have been fought on Ukrainian soil.

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The Black Sea Fleet – Russia’s technique of projecting energy within the Mediterranean – relies by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea.

Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral a part of Russian historical past and, certainly, of Russia.

The European Union should acknowledge that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic factor to home politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation right into a disaster.

Foreign coverage is the artwork of creating priorities.

The Ukrainians are the decisive factor.
They stay in a rustic with a fancy historical past and a polyglot composition.


The Western half was integrated into the Soviet Union in 1939, when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils.

Crimea, 60 per cent of whose inhabitants is Russian, grew to become a part of Ukraine solely in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by start, awarded it as a part of the Three hundredth-year celebration of a Russian settlement with the Cossacks.

The West is basically Catholic; the East largely Russian Orthodox.

The West speaks Ukrainian; the East speaks largely Russian.

Any try by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the opposite – as has been the sample – would lead ultimately to civil struggle or breakup. To deal with Ukraine as a part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for many years any prospect to convey Russia and the West – particularly Russia and Europe – right into a cooperative worldwide system.


Ukraine has been impartial for under 23 years; it had beforehand been beneath some form of international rule because the 14th century.

Not surprisingly, its leaders haven’t discovered the artwork of compromise, even much less of historic perspective.

The politics of post-independence Ukraine clearly demonstrates that the foundation of the issue lies in efforts by Ukrainian politicians to impose their will on recalcitrant components of the nation, first by one faction, then by the opposite.

That is the essence of the battle between Viktor Yanu­kovych and his principal political rival, Yulia Tymo­shenko.

They characterize the 2 wings of Ukraine and haven’t been keen to share energy.

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A smart U.S. coverage towards Ukraine would search a method for the 2 components of the nation to cooperate with one another.

We ought to search reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

Russia and the West, and least of all the varied factions in Ukraine, haven’t acted on this precept.

Each has made the state of affairs worse. Russia wouldn’t have the ability to impose a army resolution with out isolating itself at a time when lots of its borders are already precarious.

For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin shouldn’t be a coverage; it’s an alibi for the absence of 1.

Putin ought to come to appreciate that, no matter his grievances, a coverage of army impositions would produce one other Cold War.

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For its half, the United States must keep away from treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught guidelines of conduct established by Washington.

Putin is a severe strategist – on the premises of Russian historical past.

Understanding U.S. values and psychology should not his sturdy fits.
Nor has understanding Russian historical past and psychology been a robust level of U.S. policymakers.

Leaders of all sides ought to return to analyzing outcomes, not compete in posturing.

Here is my notion of an consequence suitable with the values and safety pursuits of all sides:

• Ukraine ought to have the proper to decide on freely its financial and political associations, together with with Europe.

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• Ukraine shouldn’t be part of NATO, a place I took seven years in the past, when it final got here up.

• Ukraine ought to be free to create any authorities suitable with the expressed will of its individuals.

Wise Ukrainian leaders would then go for a coverage of reconciliation between the varied components of their nation.

Internationally, they need to pursue a posture similar to that of Finland.
That nation leaves little question about its fierce independence and cooperates with the West in most fields however rigorously avoids institutional hostility towards Russia.

It is incompatible with the foundations of the present world order for Russia to annex Crimea.
But it ought to be attainable to place Crimea’s relationship to Ukraine on a much less fraught foundation.

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To that finish, Russia would acknowledge Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea.

Ukraine ought to reinforce Crimea’s autonomy in elections held within the presence of worldwide observers.

The course of would come with eradicating any ambiguities in regards to the standing of the Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

These are rules, not prescriptions. People aware of the area will know that not all of them will probably be palatable to all events.

The check shouldn’t be absolute satisfaction however balanced dissatisfaction.

If some resolution primarily based on these or comparable parts shouldn’t be achieved, the drift towards confrontation will speed up.

The time for that can come quickly sufficient.


• Kissinger was Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977 and was a German immigrant to the US after the 2nd World War.

The article was first revealed in Washington Post in 2014