kissinger

Ukraine conflict has now entered in the area of intensive diplomacy. Davos, now the seat of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is rich with Ukraine debate.

Media reports said:

Veteran U.S. statesman Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe.

The former U.S. secretary of state and architect of the Cold War rapprochement between the U.S. and China told a gathering in Davos that it would be fatal for the West to get swept up in the mood of the moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power.

Dr Kissinger was talking at the WEF.

He said the war must not be allowed to drag on for much longer, and came close to calling on the West to bully Ukraine into accepting negotiations on terms that fall very far short of its current war aims.

“Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome. Ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante. Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself,” he said.

He told the WEF that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had been the guarantor of the European balance of power structure at critical times. European leaders should not lose sight of the longer term relationship, and nor should they risk pushing Russia into a permanent alliance with China.

“I hope the Ukrainians will match the heroism they have shown with wisdom,” he said, adding with his famous sense of realpolitik that the proper role for the country is to be a neutral buffer state rather than the frontier of Europe.

The comments came amid growing signs that the Western coalition against Vladimir Putin is fraying badly as the food and energy crisis deepens, and that sanctions may have reached their limits.

Zelensky Rips Kissinger

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered his usual tour de force in a video address to the forum, saying “this is the year when we learn whether brute force will rule the world”. If it does, he added with his trademark touch, there will be no point in any more WEF in Davos.

Yet he also said Russia should be shut out of the civilized world entirely, and that all trade should stop until Russian forces are driven from Ukraine. “Sanctions should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions,” he said.

In a Wednesday address, Zelensky said Kissinger “emerges from the deep past and says that a piece of Ukraine should be given to Russia” and that Kissinger’s “calendar is not 2022, but 1938” — a reference to the Munich Agreement, which allowed for Nazi Germany to annex land in western Czechoslovakia.

“Behind all these geopolitical speculations of those who advise Ukraine to give away something to Russia, ‘great geopoliticians’ are always unwilling to see ordinary people,” Zelensky said. “Millions of those who actually live in the territory they propose to exchange for the illusion of peace. You must always see people.”

At the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday, the 98-year-old Kissinger said “negotiations on peace need to begin” between Moscow and Kyiv and that “ideally, the dividing line should return the status quo ante.”

Zelensky on Wednesday said he would not heed to “those who are in a hurry for another meeting with the dictator,” in a reference to Putin.

“No matter what the Russian state does, there is always someone who says: let’s take its interests into account. This year in Davos it was heard again,” he said. “Despite thousands of Russian missiles hitting Ukraine. Despite tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed.”

Zelensky has vowed Ukraine will fight “until it regains all its territories” and in his latest address said that “all those who defend the state are resisting the extremely fierce offensive of Russian troops in the east.”

Worst Of Europe, Says German Vice-chancellor

“We are seeing the worst of Europe,” said German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck in an angry outburst in Davos, accusing Hungary and other recalcitrant states of paralyzing attempts by the rest of the EU to craft a full-fledged oil embargo.

Habeck, who doubles as economy minister, said Germany is more or less ready to endure the shock of a total cut-off in Russian oil imports but others want to carry on as if nothing had changed. “I expect everyone to work to find a solution, and not to sit back and work on building their partnership with Putin,” he said.

Ukrainian Energy Representative

Yuriy Vitrenkio, head of the Ukrainian energy consortium Naftogas, said the refuseniks are demanding exemptions from the embargo on false pretences. “What they really want is a free-ride on discounted Russian oil,” he said.

Europe Buys More Russian Energy Than India, Says India’s Energy Minister

India’s energy minister Shri Hardeep Puri brushed aside suggestions that his country should stop buying Russian oil. “The Europeans buy more Russian energy in an afternoon than we do in a quarter,” he said in Davos.

Saudi Arabia and the OPEC states have made it clear that they will not draw on their spare capacity to cover the lost Russian supply of oil, estimated at around one million barrels a day at the end of April. This makes it extremely hard to plug the gap if Europe cuts off purchases of Russian barrels.

Oil Market Is Now Extremely Tight

Francisco Blanch from Bank of America said the oil market is now extremely tight. “The energy buffer is nearing a vanishing point. Crude oil inventories are down to a dangerously low point across Europe, North America, and OECD Asia. Inventories have also fallen to precarious levels for middle distillates and even gasoline as the market heads into the peak of the US driving season,” he said.

IEA

Unless there is a global recession and violent demand destruction, crude prices could soon spiral higher. “We’re not living in a dream world: we have to replace the lost oil with other oil,” said Fatih Birol, head of the International Energy Agency.

Birol said that the OECD bloc of rich states are releasing 1.5m barrels a day of oil to stabilize the market, and have so far depleted 9pc of their stocks. This is before the European embargo against Russia even begins. “This winter in Europe will be tough,” he said.

‘Go F**k Yourselves’ Zelensky’s Advisor Tells Western Officials

Ukrainian presidential advisor Alexey Arestovich resorted to obscene language to criticize those in the West urging Kiev to cede part of the country’s territory to Russia for the sake of peace.

“Go f**k yourselves with such proposals, you dumb f**ks, to trade Ukrainian territory a little bit! Are you f**king crazy? Our children are dying, soldiers are stopping shells with their own bodies, and they are telling us how to sacrifice our territories. This will never happen,” Arestovich said in an interview on Wednesday.

Arestovich criticized the logic of “bleating” voices encouraging Ukraine “to curb its appetite” and to give Russia the territories it supposedly wants, as such concessions would allow Kiev to “establish a comprehensive peace and to return to business as usual.”

Another adviser of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mikhail Podoliak, took to Telegram on Wednesday to address “pro-Russian lobbyists in Europe.”

“We do not sell our citizens, territories or sovereignty. This is a clear red line. Ukrainian society has paid a terrible price and will not allow anyone to even take a step in this direction – no government and no country,” Podoliak said, adding that anyone who calls for such compromises will get “a principled response” from Kiev.

While no one wants a long military action or a food crisis, “the shortest way to end the war is with weapons, sanctions and financial assistance to Ukraine,” Podoliak argued.

“The Ukrainians defended Kiev, liberated three regions and are completing the liberation of the fourth. Today, the same people offer us to give Russia the east and the south. Thanks for the advice, but we’ll probably take up arms,” the adviser claimed.

Statements from Arestovich and Podoliak come after Kissinger spoke at the WEF on Monday. Kissinger urged Ukraine to make peace quickly and seek a return to the way things were before February.

Ukraine has previously insisted that it would not agree to any peace proposal that does not respect its pre-2014 borders.

Moscow made clear that independence of Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as the status of Crimea as a Russian region, are not up for discussion.

In U.S. Senate And House

Eleven Republican senators and 57 congressmen in the U.S. voted against the colossal $40bn aid package for Ukraine, an early sign of fragmenting cohesion in Washington.

“Putin is counting on the West to lose focus and that is our real challenge. People are as concerned, or more concerned, about the rising price of gas and groceries,” said Senator Christopher Coons.

Former U.S. House Whip

“I am not sure the unity will last. We may not get the next vote,” said Eric Cantor, former House Whip and a key figure in the sanctions policy against Iran.

Nobody is sure whether the U.S. is trying to punish Russia for its aggression or whether the goal is a subtler use of policy that gives the Kremlin a “route out of sanctions” if it changes course. The fundamental divisions over the West’s war aims in Ukraine have so far been masked by an outpouring of solidarity and emotion, but these rifts are coming to the fore.

It is doubtful whether the West can maintain a united front in pursuit of such far-reaching war aims with absolutist aims. Cantor said it would require secondary sanctions against other countries, putting the West in a head on clash with China, India, and almost 60 states that refused to back a UN resolution denouncing Russia’s invasion.

Cantor said the US was in danger of overplaying its hand. “We have got to have multilateral support. We are already being accused of weaponising the world’s reserve currency. Even allies and friends are starting to ask, if you are using it in this way, we too could one day be subject to these sanctions,” he said.

The US Congress is split on the ultimate war aim. Senator Joe Manchin said the US should keep going until there was a clear “win” that restored all of Ukraine’s territory and led to the toppling of Vladimir Putin but other members of the Congressional delegation in Davos want a negotiated outcome.

Finland And Sweden Cannot Join NATO Until Turkey’s Concerns Are Met, Says Ankara

Following talks in Ankara on Wednesday, Turkish government spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters that his government would not allow Finland and Sweden into the NATO alliance until Turkey’s “concrete” security concerns regarding terrorism and sanctions are met. Kalin added that Ankara will not rush to an agreement before NATO’s next meeting.

Delegations from Sweden and Finland met with their Turkish counterparts in Ankara for five hours of talks following their joint applications to join the NATO military alliance last week. Their accession requires the unanimous consent of all 30 member states, and Turkey has threatened to block the process unless the two countries crack down on groups it considers terrorists.

“Without meeting the security concerns of Turkey, any process about NATO’s expansion cannot continue,” Kalin told a press conference after the talks. “NATO is a security organization,” he declared, adding that this means that the alliance should ensure that “the security concerns of member states are equally and fairly met.”

Turkey has demanded that Sweden and Finland lift arms export restrictions on Turkey, and that they extradite people linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Gulen movement (FETO). While Sweden and Finland both consider the PKK a terrorist organization, Turkey has also demanded that they apply the same designation to the YPG and PYD, the Kurdish military and political groups in Syria, respectively.

Kalin said that the Turkish side was pressing Sweden to crack down on its domestic PKK sympathizers and their financing and media operations. Sweden in particular has been singled out by Turkey, with Ankara accusing Stockholm of arming the Kurds with anti-tank weapons, which are used in the Kurds’ ongoing border conflict with Turkey.

Swedish and Finnish officials will now return to their capitals to discuss Turkey’s demands, which Kalin described as “concrete.” The membership process for the two Nordic states can only continue “in a way that will address the security concerns of Turkey,” he said.

NATO leaders are set to meet in Madrid, Spain, at the end of next month, but Kalin stated that Turkey is “not under time pressure” to reach an agreement with Sweden and Finland by then.

Sweden and Finland both invoked Russia’s military operation in Ukraine as motivating them to join the US-led NATO alliance. Their membership bids have been warmly received in Washington and by NATO’s European leaders, save for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, who has threatened to obstruct their applications unless the alliance addresses the alleged legal persecution of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Moscow has called the two countries’ NATO applications a “serious mistake with long-lasting ramifications.” Still, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated last week that Russia views the two countries’ NATO aspirations as less concerning than those of Ukraine, where potential territorial disputes “would have carried huge risks for the entire continent.”

Lukashenko Accuses Poland And NATO Of Plotting To Partition Ukraine

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday he was concerned about what he called moves by the West to “dismember” Ukraine, and accused Poland of seeking to seize the Western part of the country.

He offered no evidence for his assertions.

“What worries us is that they are ready, the Poles and NATO, to come out, to help take western Ukraine like it was before 1939,” Lukashenko said during a televised meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin, said Kyiv would eventually have to ask for help in preventing the seizure of western Ukraine.

Moscow has in the past suggested that Poland seeks to establish control over historical Polish lands in Ukraine, a claim that Warsaw denies as disinformation.

Poland is one of Ukraine’s strongest supporters, sending weapons across the border and taking in more than 3 million Ukrainian refugees.

Under a non-aggression pact signed in 1939 just before the outbreak of World War Two, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union carved Poland up between them. Most of the territory seized by Moscow is now in either Belarus or Ukraine. Kaliningrad, formerly German East Prussia, became an exclave of Russia.

Poland Hatching Scheme To Enter Ukraine, Warns Russian Diplomat

Recent developments indicate that Warsaw is seeking to mount a “mission creep” scheme into Ukraine, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Wednesday.

“It cannot be ruled out that Warsaw is, of course, hatching plans for some sort of mission creep into the territory of the neighboring state. In any case, the fact speaks for themselves. In this instance, the reference to Russia’s special military operation is nothing more than a pretext,” she noted.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Zelensky announced to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) that an agreement had been struck with Poland to relax border crossing rules for both countries. He added that the current situation “has involuntarily made Ukraine and Poland forget the disputes about their shared past.” Zelensky had announced earlier that a bill on expanded opportunities for Polish citizens in Ukraine would be adopted.

Meanwhile, Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel that by proclaiming the special status of Polish citizens in Ukraine, the Kiev regime would grant them rights within Ukraine, thus de facto formalizing the country’s takeover.

Serbia Weighs Possibility Of Russia Sanctions

Serbia will not join anti-Russian sanctions at this point, President Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday. In spite of the pressure from EU countries, Serbia is pursuing its own independent policy and intends to continue doing so, Vucic told the state broadcaster RTS in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“Right now there is no such possibility,” Vucic told RTS when asked if Serbia could impose sanctions on Moscow. “I don’t know what life will bring and how everything will look” in the future, he added.

“We look out for our own interests,” Vucic said. “Who knows what kind of threats we may face, but as you see, it’s been 90 days and Serbia is standing by its policy, the only country in all of Europe. A small country with people small in numbers but very proud is following its own policy – not pro-Russian, not pro-Western, but its own,” he pointed out.

The U.S. and its allies have pressured Belgrade to join their embargo on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine. The EU has argued Serbia, as an aspirant to join the bloc, must “harmonize” its policies and legislation with those of Brussels – something Vucic has so far refused to do, though he maintains his government’s strategic objective continues to be EU membership.

“Everyone’s holding it against me, calling me a black sheep,” he told RTS on Wednesday. He said he reacted to the EU’s demands by bringing up the block’s hypocrisy.

“You now talk about the territorial integrity of Ukraine, but you didn’t talk that way 23 years ago,” Vucic said, referring to the 1999 NATO war that resulted in the occupation of Serbia’s province of Kosovo.

“Today you talk about respecting the UN resolutions, but you forget UNSCR 1244 when it comes to us,” he added. The resolution, supporting the armistice that ended the 78-day war, also guaranteed Serbia’s sovereignty over Kosovo – which the US and its allies proceeded to ignore when they backed the renegade province’s declaration of independence in 2008.

“You have to understand Serbia is special, because only Serbia was bombed and attacked by NATO countries, many of which are EU members. So you have to keep that in mind when you talk to us,” Vucic told the EU leaders, according to his RTS interview.

In addition to political and diplomatic pressure, Serbia has faced a campaign of intimidation. Flights between Belgrade and Moscow have been disrupted by dozens of false bomb threats, which Vucic blamed on intelligence services of Ukraine and an unspecified EU country. False bomb threats have also targeted schools and shopping centers.

Russia To Focus On Further Developing Ties With China

Russia will focus on developing relations with China and would consider offers from the West to re-establish ties depending if they are needed, Russia’s foreign minister has said.

Sergei Lavrov, in a question and answer session at an event in Moscow on Monday, said Western countries had espoused “russophobia” since Russia began its invasion on Ukraine.

Lavrov said the country was working to replace goods imported from Western countries and in future would rely only on “reliable” countries not beholden to the West.

“If they (the West) want to offer something in terms of resuming relations, then we will seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” Lavrov said, according to a transcript on the foreign ministry’s website.

“We must cease being dependent in any way on supplies of absolutely everything from the West for ensuring the development of critically important sectors for security, the economy or our homeland’s social sphere.”

Lavrov said Moscow’s goal was to work on further building its ties with China.

“Now that the West has taken a ‘dictator’s position’, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” he said.

“In addition to direct revenue for the state budget, this is a chance to develop (Russia’s) far east and eastern Siberia.”

Lavrov Unveils Russia’s Geopolitical Strategy

Moscow expects increased economic cooperation with China as the West becomes more dictatorial, Lavrov said on Monday. Russia intends to build relations with independent countries and will decide how to deal with the West if and when it comes to its senses, he added.

“Now that the West is taking the position of a dictator, our economic ties with China will grow even faster,” Lavrov told students at the Primakov School, an elite Moscow high school named after one of his predecessors.

“In addition to direct income to the treasury, this will give us the opportunity to implement plans for the development of the Far East and Eastern Siberia,” he added. “The majority of projects with China are concentrated there. This is an opportunity for us to realize our potential in the field of high technology, including nuclear energy, but also in a number of other areas.”

Lavrov’s remarks were made at the ‘100 Questions for the Leader’, a traditional event organized by the Moscow academy named after Evgeny Primakov, who served as foreign minister from 1996-98 and after that as prime minister.

Addressing the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, Lavrov said that Moscow had tried to resolve the Donbass crisis by having Kiev implement the Minsk Protocol, but the West only pretended to care about the talks, and instead “encouraged the arrogant position of the Kiev regime.”

Now the West is “reacting furiously” to Russia defending its “absolutely legitimate, fundamental interests,” Lavrov said. Western leaders “chant spells” and declare they must “defeat Russia,” or make Russia “lose on the battlefield,” without understanding the history or nature of Russia, he added.

“They must have done poorly in school,” said Lavrov.

“I am convinced this will eventually end. The West will eventually recognize reality on the ground. It will be forced to admit that it can’t constantly attack the vital interests of Russia – or Russians, wherever they live – with impunity,” he added.

If and when the West comes to its senses and wants to offer something in terms of resuming relations, Russia will “seriously consider whether we will need it or not,” the foreign minister told high-schoolers.

Moscow isn’t just implementing a strategy of import substitution in response to anti-Russian sanctions, but “must stop in any way being dependent on the supply of anything from the West” and rely on its own capabilities and those countries that have “proven their reliability” and act independently, Lavrov explained.


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