The elements that would bring an end to the war in Ukraine have been debated almost since the Russians launched their invasion Feb. 24. Henry Kissinger has some ideas, but Ukrainians are not going to like them, and Americans might not either.
The former secretary of state is urging Ukraine to concede its occupied territory and telling the West not to pursue a crushing defeat of Russia to facilitate an end to the conflict. Kissinger said during a video appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that taking an unyielding stance in peace talks with Russia could jeopardize European stability down the road.
“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,” said Kissinger, who turns 99 on Friday. “Pursuing the war beyond that point would not be about the freedom of Ukraine, but a new war against Russia itself.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said the return of Ukrainian territory controlled by Russia – Crimea, illegally annexed in 2014, and the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk areas, under dispute since that same year – are a precondition for peace negotiations.
Ukrainians support that position overwhelmingly, according to a recent poll that shows 82% of them refuse to concede any land to end the war. Another survey, seeking to assess Americans’ opinions about the war, revealed continued support for helping Ukraine but not at the expense of the U.S. economy as inflation becomes a bigger worry.
Including a new $40 billion package, the U.S. has committed about $54 billion to aid Ukraine since the war started. Spending $54 billion for essentially a stalemate could prove unpopular with the electorate.
►Denys Prokopenko, the top military commander who fought at the steel mill until last week to keep Ukrainian control of the southern port city of Mariupol, is alive in Russian-controlled territory, his wife said Tuesday after they had a brief phone conversation.
►The U.S. will close the last avenue for Russia to pay its billions in debt to international investors on Wednesday, making Russia’s first default on its debts in more than a century all but inevitable. The Treasury Department said it does not intend to renew the license for Russia to keep paying its debtholders through American banks.
►The decomposing bodies of 200 people were found in the basement of a bombed-out apartment building in battered Mariupol, authorities said Tuesday. Mayoral adviser Petro Andryushchenk said local residents had refused Russian demands to collect the bodies of the dead, so Russia’s Ministry of Emergencies left the bodies amid the rubble.
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As Russia focuses on making gains in the eastern Donbas region in an effort to salvage a troubled war effort, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is asking for more help — namely, more weapons to fight off the assault on four cities.
“The situation in the Donbas now is very difficult,” Zelenskyy said Tuesday in his nightly video address. “Practically the full might of the Russian army, whatever they have left, is being thrown at the offensive there. Liman, Popasna, Sievierodonetsk, Slaviansk – the occupiers want to destroy everything there.”
He lauded the efforts of the Ukrainian army against a much larger enemy, but said continued supplies of arms from the West would be required to overcome the Russian advantage. Among the equipment needed, he said, are multiple-rocket launchers and tanks.
On Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden signed a $40 billion aid package that included more than $20 billion for the Pentagon to provide weapons, intelligence and training to Ukraine.
Contributing: The Associated Press