“… What do they think? That Ukraine’s going to win in this counter-offensive and Russia’s just going to sit there and say, you’re right, so sorry we’re going to go home, we’re defeated, Ukraine’s defeated us. Or Russia’s going to say, we’re going to escalate,” US economist and political analyst Jeffrey Sachs told Hungary’s commercial HirTV news channel.
And my belief is that they would, with good chance, escalate. And this could be complete disaster.
“I don’t think [NATO and the US] thought through this,” he said, as, during an escalation “suddenly Putin says okay we stop, we fold or we go to nukes.” He opined that the West does not follow the principle that “you don’t push your adversary to use nuclear weapons.”
Russia said no to NATO enlargement
Starting in the early 1990’s, the US entered a realm of arrogance which is truly epic, Mr Sachs told HirTV. The US had its first wave – including Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic – which wasn’t so sensitive for Russia because “these are far-away countries and their occupation by the Soviets has to do with World War II, which is a thing of the past.” But then the US also expanded NATO to seven more countries. including the Baltic states, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Slovenia. And then “Russia said stop, you know, you’re right on our borders,” Mr Sachs recalled.
The US pundit recalled Putin’s famous speech delivered at the Munich Security Conference back in 2007 where the Russian president called on NATO and especially the US to halt the eastward expansion, stressing that Gerogia and Ukraine meant a red line to Russia.
Washington’s plan with these expansions was to “surround Russia” from all directions in the Black Sea, Mr Sachs said.
Touching on the outbreak of the war, he recalled that it all began by toppling the government of Victor Yanukovych, whose policy was neutrality. The US at least participated in the overthrow, he said, making Ukraine the battleground of the US and Russia. And then, in 2014, Putin pushed in and took Crimea, and he then urged an agreement that would recognize the autonomy of those living in Eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.
The 2014 conflict was silenced by the Minsk agreements, although the analyst recalled a private conversation with Ukrainian officials:
They said that we have no intention of honoring this thing.
“Oh, it’s all a joke. Yeah, it’s a bad agreement. We’re not going to honor it. And so we say to Russians they don’t do diplomacy,” he recalled the words of his source.
When Joe Biden became president in 2021, he was even “more antagonistic and more militaristic, more hardline”, he opined. As early as in 2021, he said Ukraine will become a member of NATO. Meanwhile, President Putin put on the table a draft US-Russia security arrangement, whose main clause was “no more NATO enlargement,” which was discarded by the White House.
Kyiv pulled back from the doorstep of peace
Zelensky said as early as early March, just a couple weeks after the invasion, that they will go neutral. The Ukrainians and Russians started to exchange papers and actually Putin said ‘negotiate’, and there was a draft agreement that was being mediated by the Turkish foreign ministry.
They were nearing completion of an agreement and then the United States blocked it. They don’t want peace. They said: ‘we need to weaken Russia. We need to defeat Russia on the battlefield. We need to expand NATO,’
Mr Sachs said.
“Prime Minister Orban says it and he’s right” the US political analyst pointed out. So I think PM Orban is brave. He’s saying the truth. He’s hoping that the truth will make a difference.” Mr Sachs expressed the same opinion earlier, when he gave an exclusive interview to our newspaper. He then underlined that Hungary’s prime minister was the only European leader “who is making sense right now about Ukraine.”
Speaking on HirTV, Mr Sachs voiced the same view about Turkish President Erdogan, saying he “understands the Black Sea issues and the path to safety” better than anyone. “It wouldn’t take many to say clearly inside NATO: come on, could we think a little bit before we just continue down this mindless automatic path that is leading to Ukraine’s destruction and threatening the world,” Mr Sachs added.
In fact, three quarters of the world’s population, Africa, China, India, South America, understand what is happening, and they understand the path to security, he said, adding that
Prime Minister Orban is really exceptional because not only does he get it completely clearly, but he says the truth … which is very painful to do when all the others, even when they get it, are not ready to say.
Cover photo: US economist and political analyst Jeffrey Sachs at the conference of the Mathias Corvinus Collegium (MCC) on the war in Ukraine, on 6 June 2023 (Source: Balazs Orban/Twitter)