Robert F. Kennedy Junior (photo) announced that he was running for president, challenging Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. He is already polling at 20%. Mr Kennedy agreed to speak to UnHerd. Below are some his points of the conversation concerning the Ukrainian conflict.
Q.: That takes us to this pressing question: one thing you talk about a lot is that America is in a permanent state of war and you want to put an end to that. With regard to Ukraine, how do you propose to do that?
RFK Jr: The Russians have repeatedly offered to settle. If you look at the Minsk accords, which the Russians offered to settle for, they look like a really good deal today. Let’s be honest: it’s a US war against Russia, to essentially sacrifice the flower of Ukrainian youth in an abattoir of death and destruction for the geopolitical ambition of the neocons, oft-stated, of regime change for Vladimir Putin and exhausting the Russian military so that they can’t fight anywhere else in the world.
President Biden has said that was his intention — to get rid of Vladimir Putin. His Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, in April 2022, said that our purpose here is to exhaust the Russian army. What does that mean, “exhaust”? It means throwing Ukrainians at them… The commander of the special forces unit in the Ukraine, which is probably the most elite fighting force in Europe, has said 80% of his troops are dead or are wounded and they cannot rebuild the unit. Right now, the Russians are killing Ukrainians at a ratio of either 1:5 or 1:8, depending on what data you believe.
If you look at the Minsk accords, it sets the groundwork for a final settlement. The Donbas region, which is 80% ethnic Russian — and Russians that were being systematically killed by the Ukrainian government — would become autonomous within Ukraine and would be protected.
We need to remove our Aegis missile systems, which house the Tomahawk missiles — nuclear missiles — from 70 miles from the Russian border. When the Russians put nuclear missiles on Cuba, 1,500 miles from Washington DC, we were ready to invade them, and we would have invaded them if they hadn’t removed them. The way they got removed ultimately is: my uncle and father made a deal with Ambassador Brennan and Khrushchev, who they had a close relationship with and they could talk directly to at that point. The deal was: “we will remove our Jupiter missiles from Turkey, on your border, because we know that’s intolerable to you.”
Russia has been invaded twice in the previous 100 years. One could see why they wouldn’t want nuclear missile systems in hostile countries on their border. We should also agree to keep Nato out of Ukraine, which is what the Russians have asked. I think based upon those points, somebody like me could settle this war.
I don’t think the neocons are capable of settling it, nor the people who surround President Biden — because they were the ones who created the problem. I don’t think they’ll ever recognise that. But my uncle always said, if you want to actually achieve peace, you’ve got to put yourself in the other guy’s shoes and you’ve got to figure out the local pressures on him too.
We should have listened to Putin over many years. We made a commitment to Russia, to Gorbachev, that we would not move Nato one inch to the east. Then we went in, and we lied. We went into 13 Nato countries, we put missile systems in with nuclear capacity; we did joint exercises with Ukraine and these others for Nato.
“What is the purpose of Nato?” – this is what George Kennan asked; this is what Jack Matlock asked. All of the doyens of US foreign policy were saying: “Russia lost the Cold War. Let’s do to Russia what we did in Europe when we gave them the Marshall Plan. We’re the victors — let’s lift them up. Let’s integrate them into European society.”
What is the purpose of Nato other than to oppose Russia?
If you’re addressing Russia in a hostile way from the beginning, of course their reaction is going to be hostile back. And if you’re slowly moving in all of these states, who we said would never become part of Nato.
What happened in the Ukraine is that the US supported essentially a coup d’etat in 2014, against the democratically-elected government of Ukraine.
We have telephone call transcripts of Victoria Nuland, one of the neocons in the White House, handpicking the new cabinet that was hostile to the Soviet Union.
If you look at that, and you put yourself in Russia’s position, and you say: “Okay, the United States, our biggest enemy, is treating us as an enemy, has now taken over the government of a nation and made them hostile to us, and then started passing laws that are prejudicial to this giant Russian population.”
If Mexico did that and then started killing — they killed 14,000 Russians in Donbas, the Ukrainian government — if Mexico did that to expatriate Americans, we’d invade in a second!
We have to put ourselves in the shoes of our opponents, says Robert F. Kennedy Junior.
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