Every Sunday on CNN, the greats of this world come to their set to discuss foreign policy. Born in India to Muslim parents, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, Fareed Zakaria dazzled readers in 2008 with his book The post-American world (Time) then in 2021 with Back to the Future: 10 Lessons for Tomorrow (Saint Simon). Before being welcomed to Paris on Tuesday by the French American Foundation, he confides to us here his feeling that it is too early to negotiate with Putin.
What do you remember about the meeting of the allies on Friday in Ramstein?
What President Zelensky is asking is obvious, logical for a leader whose country is being invaded: to obtain the maximum number of weapons to defeat his enemy. If they were in their place, all Europeans would ask the same of their allies. The challenge for the West is to help Ukraine as best as possible while preventing the conflict from spreading geographically. It is not, in fact, a conflict between two small countries like the others in European territory but between one of them and a superpower equipped with nuclear weapons. The Westerners have already made the necessary strategic decision by supporting Ukraine to win this war, that is, for Russia to be defeated. From there, you have to go all the way and give Ukraine what it needs. As dangerous as it would be to supply it with missiles that can reach Russian soil, this is not the case with tanks. If the Ukrainians do not have these tanks, they will lose this war and the western camp will be defeated at the same time.
Is it a German, European, transatlantic problem?
This is an issue for Germany. I understand your historical argument and it is worth questioning its role as a military power less than a century after the tragedy of World War II. That’s why we need to support the Germans too. If the United States also delivered tanks, Germany would think it is not alone. So it’s also a problem for Ukraine’s allies. If you consider an end without giving yourself the means, it is between us all that will gradually suffer the consequences, especially at a global economic level.
Do you understand those who want to see Ukraine win but without it leading to Russian capitulation?
Yes, it is obviously quite understandable, but only on a theoretical level. Because, practically speaking, we are not there yet. Today, Putin’s Russia does not want to negotiate anything. Putin discovers that his army cannot defeat Ukraine. So he decided to destroy it. This is the point of all these bombings of infrastructure and even civilian residential areas. For the Russians, this phase can last a long time and in this context, offering Putin an olive branch could make him believe that he has won. If the military effort of the Ukrainians continues without failure, perhaps this Russian strategy will change because the balance of power will no longer be in their favor. Then it will be time to make concessions in real negotiations. Churchill said that the winner of a war must be magnanimous. Perhaps this motto could later be applied to Russia. Because I don’t think, in fact, that making Russia capitulate is the best solution.
Also read – Ukraine: These weapons, especially sent by France, will constitute the aerial shield desired by Zelensky
President Zelensky promises to take Crimea back. The US Chief of Staff believes this is militarily unreasonable. Is it reasonable to talk about it?
This is a fundamental question. Because it is a focal point for the Russians for historical reasons and for the Ukrainians because of their territorial integrity that needs to be restored. I don’t think the Ukrainians are wrong to target it militarily. If there are ever negotiations, I would also not advise the Ukrainians to give up too easily, unless in return they got a spectacular gain, and not just a budget for the reconstruction of their country or the prospect of quickly joining the NATO. It’s up to them to decide.
We all know, however, that Russia regards Ukraine’s accession to NATO as a declaration of war by the West, and that the conflict could engulf the whole of Europe…
That is why this issue should not be on the table until Ukraine has won the war. But once the negotiations begin, we can work very creatively on security guarantees for Ukraine that do not necessarily require NATO membership. Putin and Zelensky know that these negotiations will involve not only their two countries, but also the major Western powers. Then there will be enough to think about the future of Ukraine and Russia without the whole of Europe being geopolitically destabilized in the long term.
Countries closest to Ukraine, such as the Baltics and Poland, accuse France and Germany of being too timid, if not cowardly. are they right
No, it’s even unfair. What Emmanuel Macron has expressed and what he has been doing from the beginning makes sense and corresponds to the interests of France, Germany and Europe. The reproaches that are made do not correspond to reality either. In fact, Europe and the West have never been so united. Remember the Cold War with the fate of Berlin in the 1950s, with Vietnam in the 1960s, with Euromissiles in the 1970s and 1980s! Yes, there are points of conflict with countries bordering Russia that have legitimate reasons for not feeling safe enough. But France and Germany, even if their talk of future negotiations with Russia is premature, are firmly committed to the side of Ukraine and its European neighbors.
Also read – How far should we support Ukraine?
Do you think Putin may lose power if military defeats pile up?
I think Putin is holding on to power. He has eliminated all forms of political opposition, is protected by a presidential guard, and no other army regiment – the only potential source of threat to him – is allowed to enter Moscow. The oligarchs owe their power to Putin and can do nothing against him. I have met with Putin several times. He is a rational and very intelligent man. I tend to compare Ukraine with French Algeria. For many Russians, there is a deep attachment to Ukraine. But the Ukrainians, like the Algerians, do not want to be part of the Empire. This imperial question is no longer compatible with the modern world. If Putin is able to understand it, anything is possible. Henry Kissinger, who knows him well, tells me that Putin is not crazy. It’s not Gaddafi! It is true that he completely underestimated the resilience of the Ukrainians and the cohesion of the Westerners, but he is able to reason and calculate and it is quite possible that he will end up making the necessary reasonable decisions.
Source : Le JDD