11 May 2014, 16:54

Claims that Putin initiated conflict in Ukraine after Sochi Olympics make no sense - Kissinger

Claims that Putin initiated conflict in Ukraine after Sochi Olympics make no sense - Kissinger

Russia has been striving to showcase its progress in the past several years, making it unlikely that instigating a conflict in Ukraine could have been amongst President Vladimir Putin’s plans, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told CNN.

Putin spent $60 billion on the Sochi Olympics, Kissinger said. "They had opening and closing ceremonies, trying to show Russia as a normal progressive state. So it isn't possible that, three days later, he would voluntarily launch an assault on Ukraine.

Putin had, of course, to react to events in Ukraine, after they slipped out of control, Kissinger said, yet it's unlikely that he had planned to bring Ukraine "to a head".

Rather, in Kissinger's view, Putin expected things to take a more gradual turn, so now "this is sort of a response to what he [Putin] conceived to be an emergency situation".

"But I think we ought to settle the Ukraine issue first, and then have a discussion about relations with Russia," Kissinger concluded.

He also said that every senior Russian he had ever met, including dissidents like Solzhenitsyn and Brodsky, "looked at Ukraine as part of the Russian heritage".

Not long ago, Kissinger, in an article for the Washington Post newspaper stressed that Ukraine should be perceived not as a country that "joins the East or the West" but as a "bridge between them". He criticized attempts to demonize Putin.

"The demonization of Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one," Kissinger wrote.

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