Henry Kissinger pushed for peace talks to end Russia’s war in Ukraine in an article published on Saturday, offering a framework for a potential ceasefire.
Writing for The Spectator, the former secretary of state suggested Ukraine establish official ties with NATO, Russia retreat from territory it has gained since its invasion, and popular votes potentially decide the fate of territory occupied by Moscow before the war.
“I have repeatedly expressed my support for the allied military effort to thwart Russia’s aggression in Ukraine,” Kissinger wrote. “But the time is approaching to build on the strategic changes which have already been accomplished and to integrate them into a new structure towards achieving peace through negotiation.”
Kissinger suggested in May that the two sides agree to a “dividing line” that returns to “the status quo ante,” essentially asking Ukraine to cede territory including the Crimean peninsula and parts of the Donetsk region in return for peace.
In his article over the weekend, the 99-year-old diplomat suggests control of those territories be decided after a ceasefire agreement.
“If the pre-war dividing line between Ukraine and Russia cannot be achieved by combat or by negotiation, recourse to the principle of self-determination could be explored,” he wrote. “Internationally supervised referendums concerning self-determination could be applied to particularly divisive territories which have changed hands repeatedly over the centuries.”
And he argues that Ukraine has established itself during the war as a “major state in Central Europe” with “one of the largest and most effective land armies in Europe,” paving the way for its entry into western security alliances.
“A peace process should link Ukraine to Nato, however expressed. The alternative of neutrality is no longer meaningful, especially after Finland and Sweden joined Nato,” Kissinger writes.
The potential of Ukraine joining NATO was seen as a driving factor in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky ripped Kissinger’s suggestions earlier this year — made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland — and his office indicated it was not receptive to his more detailed proposal this week.
“All supporters of simple solutions should remember the obvious: any agreement with the devil — a bad peace at the expense of Ukrainian territories — will be a victory for Putin and a recipe for success for autocrats around the world,” Zelensky aide Mykhailo Podolyak said on Telegram.
Ukraine’s government has largely dismissed any peace plans that include concessions to Russia, insisting it will not cede any territory and will fight until Moscow’s troops are entirely out of the country.
A Ukrainian diplomat told billionaire Elon Musk to “f— off” in October after the SpaceX CEO proposed Ukraine give up some territory and hold new elections in contested regions to end the war with Russia.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, angered Ukrainian officials last month when he suggested Russia’s retreat from Kherson and the winter months might present “a window of opportunity for negotiation.”
Milley later sought to clarify his comments, saying the U.S. would “continue to support Ukraine as long as it takes to keep them free” and that it was up to Ukraine to decide when to negotiate.
However, the U.S. has reportedly encouraged Zelensky to signal his openness to talks with Russia to counter war fatigue among its international backers.
Mark A. Milley