Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday slammed former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for suggesting earlier this week that Ukraine cede some territory to Russia in the name of peace.
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 World Economic Forum 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.”
Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and fomented separatist movements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east. Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the regions independent before moving troops into Ukraine and launching a full-scale assault.
With Russia having at least temporarily scaled back its ambitions of seizing Kyiv, many believe Putin would at least want to secure control of some of the eastern regions before ending the war.
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.”
Russia invaded Ukraine in part because Putin feared the expanding reach of the 30-member security block NATO, which Ukraine had shown an increasing interest in joining. However, more than three months into the war, Putin’s aggression has inspired high-security Nordic nations Finland and Sweden to move to join the Western security alliance.
After a series of Russian losses stalled offensives, NATO has said Ukraine can win the war the against Russia.
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.”