The two 90-something European-Americans spoke separately at the Davos summit this week, offering very different assessments of what the West should do in the face of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The Davos summit was the setting for a heavyweight contrast of aging but still influential power brokers of another era. Henry Kissinger and George Soros, two Americans, born in pre-World War II Europe, offered very different takes on what to do about the war in Ukraine.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 98, told a Davos audience that the way out of the conflict with Russia was for Kyiv to cede territory in eastern Ukraine. The Telegraph quoted him Tuesday as telling the annual meeting of business and political leaders: “Negotiations need to begin in the next two months before it creates upheavals and tensions that will not be easily overcome.”
Kissinger, who fled Nazi Germany as a teenager, added that “ideally, the dividing line should be a return to the status quo ante,” a reference to Russia controlling parts of the eastern Donbas region.
George Soros, 91, who survived the 1945 siege of Budapest before becoming a billionaire financier in the UK and U.S., instead warned that Russia's invasion of Ukraine risks being the the start of World War III, “and our civilization may not survive it.”
Soros concludes that: "the best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible. That's the bottom line."
There was no reaction in Moscow to the comments from either 90-something. But in Kyiv,
Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, went on Twitter to call Kissinger a "Davos panicker."
"As easily as Mr. Kissinger offers to give part of Ukraine to Russia, he would allow Poland or Lithuania to be taken away. It is good that Ukrainians in the trenches do not have time to listen to the advice of the Davos Panickers.”
Narrowing Battles In The East Will Determine Rest Of The War
The battles taking place in eastern Ukraine could determine the fate of the war and the country, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said.
According to the US think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Russia has abandoned efforts to complete a single large encirclement of Ukrainian forces in the region and are instead attempting smaller encirclements. The ISW said that Russian forces have secured more terrain in the past week than efforts earlier in May. However, they have done so by reducing the scope of their objectives.” The institute points out that Russian performance remains poor.
Severodonetsk, a city in northeast Ukraine in the Luhansk oblast, is strategic to Russia’s plans because of its position on the Donets river. Attacks by Russian forces on the city are increasing according to Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai. Writing on Telegram, Haidai also accused Russian forces of targeting the Azot factory where civilians are hiding in bomb shelters. He said six people died and eight were wounded, with most of the incidents taking place near bomb shelters.
Zelensky: Russia Will Have To Leave Crimea Too
All quiet in Crimea for now
President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that Russia will have to leave Crimea, as well as all other occupied Ukrainian territories.
"Of course, the occupiers will have to leave the Crimea as well. As well as from Kherson, Melitopol, Energodar, Mariupol and all other cities and communities where they still portray themselves as masters," said the president during his evening online address Tuesday night.
Zelensky reminded that the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 began with the Crimea.
"This was not the first item on the list of mistakes of the Russian state towards Ukraine, but the first fatal one for Russia itself.”
Russian Defense Minister: We’re Moving Slowly On Purpose
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
Russia is deliberately slowing down the pace of its assault in Ukraine in order to allow evacuation and avoid civilian casualties, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency Ria Novosti.
The statement was mocked in response by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky: "After three months of searching for an explanation for why they failed to break up Ukraine in three days, they came up with nothing better than to claim that it was planned. Nearly 30,000 Russian soldiers were killed, more than 200 planes shot down, thousands of lost Russian tanks, armored vehicles on their equipment, and almost completely spent Russian missile ammunition. They want to cover all this with lies that they are not fighting at full strength."
Finland And Sweden Delegations In Turkey To Overcome NATO Objection
Delegations from Finland and Sweden are opening talks in Turkey with senior Turkish officials to try to overcome the country’s objections to them joining NATO.
This comes after Finland and Sweden submitted their applications to NATO last week, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that Turkey was opposed to the membership because the Nordic countries “harbored” his political opponents that he considers terrorists.
Hungary Declares State Of Emergency
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared a state of emergency due to the war in Ukraine. In a video posted on Facebook, Orban said that the war presented a constant danger to “Hungary, our physical safety, the energy supplies and financial safety of families and the economy.”
This comes after the Hungarian parliament passed a constitutional amendment on Tuesday allowing for legal states of emergency to be declared when armed conflicts, wars or humanitarian disasters were taking place in neighboring countries.
Film By Director Executed In Mariupol To Be Screened At Cannes
Lithuanian filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius, who was killed during the siege of Mariupol, will be featured at the Cannes film festival, with footage from the Russian invasion edited into his final feature.
The director of Barzakh (2011), Mariupolis (2016) and Parthenon (2019), was captured and murdered by the Russian army in Mariupol on March 30. Since 2014, Kvedaravičius had focused much of his work on Mariupol, drawn to ts history, where traces of Greek culture were combined with Soviet heritage and new Ukrainian realities.
Soon after the Feb. 24 invasion, Kvedaravičius went to film in Mariupol again, before he was summarily killed. After the death of filmmaker, his producers and collaborators have put together all the footage to make Mariupolis 2, which depicts life continuing amid the bombing and reveals images that convey both tragedy and hope.
If Putin Opts For A Tactical Nuclear Strike
The risk of the Kremlin launching a tactical nuclear weapon on Ukraine is small but not impossible, notes Les Echos. The French newspaper looks into what the possible scenarios could be in the wake of such an attack.
“And so what would happen if Putin were to press the button? Let’s think the unthinkable, which is not so unthinkable after all, since he was only a hair's breadth away from setting off nuclear fire on at least three occasions already.
The Russian president presses the red button (which does not exist by the way, instead it is in fact the activation of a code with the help of a bag nicknamed "Tcheget"), to launch a bomb of 2 kilotons on Ukraine.
He would then likely obtain the immediate surrender of Kyiv. How can one imagine that soldiers, as brave as they may be, continue to fight against an adversary determined to kill 40,000 fighters and civilians with just one missile? Not to mention the panic caused by the deadly radiation. This is what led Japan to surrender in only a few hours in August 1945.” (Read more here)
Marks And Spencers Exits Russian Market
Marks and Spencer store in Moscowcommons.wikimedia.org
British retailer Marks and Spencers announced that it will be exiting the Russian market due to the war in Ukraine.
The company had initially announced in early March that it was halting shipments to Russia, but now becomes the latest multinational (after Starbucks and McDonald’s) to have permanently abandoned Russia.
Sale Finalized Of Chelsea By Oligarch Abramovich
Chelsea Football Club stadiumcommons.wikimedia.org
The UK government has approved the sale of Premier League soccer club Chelsea from Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich after a lengthy delay. The $5 billion takeover bid had been complicated by sanctions placed on Abramovich because of his alleged close links to Putin, which the oligarch denies.
Abramovich has insisted that all net proceeds from the sale would be used “for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine.”