… Interviewer: You wrote, I think in 1997, in your book about The Grand Chessboard … this same phrase which I wrote down about Russia with Ukraine is an empire and Russia without Ukraine is more of an European country. But given that Eastern Ukraine is mostly occupied by Russian supportive forces, would you call Russia semi-empire or —
Brzezinski: [laughs] … Russia right now is an aspiring empire …
… We really need to strike a balance between a policy in which we offer Russia a policy of accommodation — genuine accommodation — and at the same time convince Russia that crossing certain lines is prohibitively expensive — for Russia itself. … There is the risk that the Russians might calculate, or rather, miscalculate, that they may seek more than that’s tolerable, and that would produce unpredictable consequences. This is why I favor deterrence, including reliance on force if necessary, and accommodation, for instance reassurance to the Russians that it is not our intent or objective to make Ukraine a member of NATO. but rather something like Finland. …
This was a top level interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the reputed éminence grise of Washington foreign policy, and Ursula von der Leyen, Germany’s Minister of Defense, conducted by Steven Erlanger, London Bureau Chief of The New York Times, in this year’s edition of The Brussels Forum, “an annual high-level meeting of the most influential North American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing both sides of the Atlantic”, held between March 20 and 22.
For her part, der Leyen states categorically that “we have decided in Europe” that “the solution [to the conflict with Russia] will be on the negotiating table, not on the killing field.”
The excerpts quoted are from the video starting at 30:00.
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