The war between Russia and Ukraine is the result of strategic “mistakes” made by the US and the UK, according to former Czech President and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus.
– This war started on 4 April 2008, he declared in a speech referring to the NATO summit in Bucharest, where the US and UK managed to convince the other members of the military alliance to support Ukraine and Georgia’s “aspirations for membership”.
The speech was delivered at the World Economic Forum in Davos in early January, but was only published last week. Klaus called the war a “tragic historic event” that “could and should have been avoided” if NATO countries had acted differently.
– We shouldn’t forget its historic context. This war started on 4 April 2008. On that day, at the NATO summit in Bucharest, the decision was made to admit Ukraine and Georgia to NATO. I was present at that event, I was sitting there and I knew already there that what happened was a tragic mistake. I tried to argue against it there, he explained.
He points out that the decision was pushed through by US and British leaders George W. Bush and Gordon Brown – despite the fact that the majority of participating member states, including Germany and France, were actually against Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO.
– I must admit that I felt very depressed there. Many of the attending Presidents and Prime Ministers were irresponsibly silent during the very long evening. It is also well-known that the US ambassador in Moscow, W. Burns, warned the US government at the time that this meant crossing all the so-called “red lines” for Russia.
A divided country
The former top politician also argued that the West and NATO countries do not understand how Ukrainian statehood works, describing the country as an “unsuccessful and unfinished transition from communism to parliamentary democracy and market economy”. He also pointed out that Ukraine is very divided – both ethnically and politically, with extreme differences between the northwest and southeast of the country.
He also noted that a civil war has been going on since 2014, when the US-backed coup took place in the country. The Donetsk and Lugansk regions refused to accept the legitimacy of the new government and instead declared their independence – a development he said most observers could have predicted.
According to Klaus, Moscow’s intention at the start of the invasion was never to occupy Ukraine, but rather to use military means to prevent the country from joining NATO, which is why it invaded the country with so few troops.
He concluded his speech by arguing that all parties to the war – including the US and the EU – had “miscalculated” and that there is no end in sight to the conflict.
– I have only a procedural advice. My modest advice is to start negotiating. Not only between Russia and Ukraine.