The WorldPost: With recent troop movements, it looks like Russia could be preparing to seize the Crimea. How will Ukrainians react?
Zbigniew Brzezinski: If Russia does that, it may well end up having the Crimea, but it will lose Ukraine forever. They will never forgive Russia for this.
The WorldPost: In the immediate term, what can the West do?
Brzezinski: The strategy of the West at this moment should be to complicate Vladimir Putin’s planning. He should be given options to avoid conflict. But he should also be made aware of the very negative consequences for Russia that would follow the outbreak of armed conflict.
By options, I mean that we should indicate to Russia that we prefer a peaceful accommodation in Ukraine, and NATO should invite the Russians to participate in its ongoing discussions about this crisis.
But, at the same time, we should let the Russians know we are not going to be passive. First, we have to formally recognize the new government in Ukraine, which I believe expresses the will of the people there. It is the legitimate government. And interference in Ukrainian affairs should be considered a hostile act by a foreign power.
Further, we should put NATO contingency plans into operation, deploying forces in Central Europe so we are in a position to respond if war should break out and spread.
The WorldPost: What is the ultimate solution to Ukraine, historically situated between the West and Russia?
Brzezinski: Ultimately, the best solution for Ukraine would be to become as Finland has been to Russia. That is, a relationship where there are both open economic relationships with Russia and expanding connections with the European Union, but no participation in any military alliance.
The WorldPost: If we manage to get by this crisis and avoid a war, Ukraine is in an economic mess. George Soros has called for Germany to take the lead in helping Ukraine. And, just before the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis, German President Joachim Gauck called on his country to step up to the world stage. What is the EU role here, and Germany’s role in particular?
Brzezinski: If the EU is serious about playing a role in the world, it has to start here. And that means putting up the money to help stabilize Ukraine’s teetering economy. A compromise solution that is acceptable for Russia as well as the West, and that will avoid war and give the Ukrainians some hope of a future, will involve serious economic aid and investment. Since Germany is the most prosperous and strongest economy in the EU, it should take the lead.
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