Tuesday 10 May 2022

Henry Kissinger at the weekend



Quotations from Henry Kissinger in an interview in yesterday's FT.

In principle, the [Sino-Russian] alliance is against vested interests, it’s now established. But it does not look to me as if it is an intrinsically permanent relationship. FT: I take it that it would be in America’s geopolitical interest to encourage more distance between Russia and China. Is this wrong? HK: The geopolitical situation globally will undergo significant changes after the Ukraine war is over. And it is not natural for China and Russia to have identical interests on all foreseeable problems. I don’t think we can generate possible disagreements but I think circumstances will. After the Ukraine war, Russia will have to reassess its relationship to Europe at a minimum and its general attitude towards Nato. I think it is unwise to take an adversarial position to two adversaries in a way that drives them together, and once we take aboard this principle in our relationships with Europe and in our internal discussions, I think history will provide opportunities in which we can apply the differential approach. That doesn’t mean that either of them will become intimate friends of the west, it only means that on specific issues as they arise we leave open the option of having a different approach. In the period ahead of us, we should not lump Russia and China together as an integral element. 


...I have met Putin as a student of international affairs about once a year for a period of maybe 15 years for purely academic strategic discussions. I thought his basic convictions were a kind of mystic faith in Russian history . . . and that he felt offended, in that sense, not by anything we did particularly at first, but by this huge gap that opened up with Europe and the east. He was offended and threatened because Russia was threatened by the absorption of this whole area into Nato. This does not excuse and I would not have predicted an attack of the magnitude of taking over a recognised country. I think he miscalculated the situation he faced internationally and he obviously miscalculated Russia’s capabilities to sustain such a major enterprise — and when the time for settlement comes all need to take that into consideration, that we are not going back to the previous relationship but to a position for Russia that will be different because of this — and not because we demand it but because they produced it. 


...I would suspect that any Chinese leader now would be reflecting on how to avoid getting into the situation in which Putin got himself into, and how to be in a position where in any crisis that might arise, they would not have a major part of the world turned against them. 

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