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5/31/2015

HenryA.Kissinger

HENRYA.KISSINGER
ARTICLES
HOW THEUKRAINECRISISENDS
BYHENRYA.KISSINGER

TheWashingtonPostMarch6,2014
PublicdiscussiononUkraineisallaboutconfrontation.Butdoweknowwherewearegoing?Inmylife,Ihave
seenfourwarsbegunwithgreatenthusiasmandpublicsupport,allofwhichwedidnotknowhowtoendand
fromthreeofwhichwewithdrewunilaterally.Thetestofpolicyishowitends,nothowitbegins.
FartoooftentheUkrainianissueisposedasashowdown:whetherUkrainejoinstheEastortheWest.Butif
Ukraineistosurviveandthrive,itmustnotbeeithersidesoutpostagainsttheotheritshouldfunctionas
abridgebetweenthem.
RussiamustacceptthattotrytoforceUkraineintoasatellitestatus,andtherebymoveRussiasborders
again,woulddoomMoscowtorepeatitshistoryofselffulfillingcyclesofreciprocalpressureswithEuropeand
theUnitedStates.
TheWestmustunderstandthat,toRussia,Ukrainecanneverbejustaforeigncountry.Russianhistorybegan
inwhatwascalledKievanRus.TheRussianreligionspreadfromthere.UkrainehasbeenpartofRussiafor
centuries,andtheirhistorieswereintertwinedbeforethen.SomeofthemostimportantbattlesforRussian
freedom,startingwiththeBattleofPoltavain1709,werefoughtonUkrainiansoil.TheBlackSeaFleet
RussiasmeansofprojectingpowerintheMediterraneanisbasedbylongtermleaseinSevastopol,in
Crimea.EvensuchfameddissidentsasAleksandrSolzhenitsynandJosephBrodskyinsistedthatUkrainewas
anintegralpartofRussianhistoryand,indeed,ofRussia.
TheEuropeanUnionmustrecognizethatitsbureaucraticdilatorinessandsubordinationofthestrategic
elementtodomesticpoliticsinnegotiatingUkrainesrelationshiptoEuropecontributedtoturninga
negotiationintoacrisis.Foreignpolicyistheartofestablishingpriorities.
TheUkrainiansarethedecisiveelement.Theyliveinacountrywithacomplexhistoryandapolyglot
composition.TheWesternpartwasincorporatedintotheSovietUnionin1939,whenStalinandHitlerdivided
upthespoils.Crimea,60percentofwhosepopulationisRussian,becamepartofUkraineonlyin1954,when
NikitaKhrushchev,aUkrainianbybirth,awardeditaspartofthe300thyearcelebrationofaRussian
agreementwiththeCossacks.ThewestislargelyCatholictheeastlargelyRussianOrthodox.Thewestspeaks
UkrainiantheeastspeaksmostlyRussian.AnyattemptbyonewingofUkrainetodominatetheotheras
hasbeenthepatternwouldleadeventuallytocivilwarorbreakup.TotreatUkraineaspartofanEastWest
confrontationwouldscuttlefordecadesanyprospecttobringRussiaandtheWestespeciallyRussiaand
Europeintoacooperativeinternationalsystem.
Ukrainehasbeenindependentforonly23yearsithadpreviouslybeenundersomekindofforeignrulesince
the14thcentury.Notsurprisingly,itsleadershavenotlearnedtheartofcompromise,evenlessofhistorical
perspective.ThepoliticsofpostindependenceUkraineclearlydemonstratethattherootoftheproblemliesin
effortsbyUkrainianpoliticianstoimposetheirwillonrecalcitrantpartsofthecountry,firstbyonefaction,
thenbytheother.ThatistheessenceoftheconflictbetweenViktorYanukovychandhisprincipalpolitical
rival,YuliaTymoshenko.TheyrepresentthetwowingsofUkraineandhavenotbeenwillingtosharepower.A
wiseU.S.policytowardUkrainewouldseekawayforthetwopartsofthecountrytocooperatewitheach
other.Weshouldseekreconciliation,notthedominationofafaction.
RussiaandtheWest,andleastofallthevariousfactionsinUkraine,havenotactedonthisprinciple.Eachhas
madethesituationworse.Russiawouldnotbeabletoimposeamilitarysolutionwithoutisolatingitselfata
timewhenmanyofitsbordersarealreadyprecarious.FortheWest,thedemonizationofVladimirPutinisnot
apolicyitisanalibifortheabsenceofone.
Putinshouldcometorealizethat,whateverhisgrievances,apolicyofmilitaryimpositionswouldproduce
anotherColdWar.Foritspart,theUnitedStatesneedstoavoidtreatingRussiaasanaberranttobepatiently
taughtrulesofconductestablishedbyWashington.PutinisaseriousstrategistonthepremisesofRussian
history.UnderstandingU.S.valuesandpsychologyarenothisstrongsuits.NorhasunderstandingRussian
historyandpsychologybeenastrongpointofU.S.policymakers.
Leadersofallsidesshouldreturntoexaminingoutcomes,notcompeteinposturing.Hereismynotionofan
outcomecompatiblewiththevaluesandsecurityinterestsofallsides:
1.Ukraineshouldhavetherighttochoosefreelyitseconomicandpoliticalassociations,includingwithEurope.
2.UkraineshouldnotjoinNATO,apositionItooksevenyearsago,whenitlastcameup.
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3.Ukraineshouldbefreetocreateanygovernmentcompatiblewiththeexpressedwillofitspeople.Wise
Ukrainianleaderswouldthenoptforapolicyofreconciliationbetweenthevariouspartsoftheircountry.
Internationally,theyshouldpursueaposturecomparabletothatofFinland.Thatnationleavesnodoubt
aboutitsfierceindependenceandcooperateswiththeWestinmostfieldsbutcarefullyavoidsinstitutional
hostilitytowardRussia.
4.ItisincompatiblewiththerulesoftheexistingworldorderforRussiatoannexCrimea.Butitshouldbe
possibletoputCrimeasrelationshiptoUkraineonalessfraughtbasis.Tothatend,Russiawouldrecognize
UkrainessovereigntyoverCrimea.UkraineshouldreinforceCrimeasautonomyinelectionsheldinthe
presenceofinternationalobservers.Theprocesswouldincluderemovinganyambiguitiesaboutthestatusof
theBlackSeaFleetatSevastopol.
Theseareprinciples,notprescriptions.Peoplefamiliarwiththeregionwillknowthatnotallofthemwillbe
palatabletoallparties.Thetestisnotabsolutesatisfactionbutbalanceddissatisfaction.Ifsomesolutionbased
ontheseorcomparableelementsisnotachieved,thedrifttowardconfrontationwillaccelerate.Thetimefor
thatwillcomesoonenough.
HenryA.Kissingerwassecretaryofstatefrom1973to1977.
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